Out and about now, are a diverse group of fauna and flora. In no particular order, here’s some of the collection.
Nettle is most often listed as the host plant for red admirals. The presence of nettle greatly increases your chances of seeing these colorful brush-footed butterflies. But, you may also see them at various locations during vernal and autumnal migrations. Not as noticeable and certainly not as well known as the monarch butterfly’s migrations, these butterflies do move north in spring and south in fall.
There are many kinds of katydids, from tree top-loving, to grass-loving species. Handsome katydids are meadow katydids and so are found feeding on herbaceous plants close to the ground.
Pearl crescents use asters as the host for their caterpillars. The adult butterflies can be seen nectaring on many different kinds of flowers.
The position dragonflies assume during mating is called the copulation wheel.
Dragonflies hold their wings out to the side when perched. Most damselflies hold their wings folded over their backs when perched. One group of damsels holds their wings in a half open position while at rest. This group of damsels is called spreadwing damselflies. The one pictured below is a female. Females can be difficult to distinguish as to species without a very close examination.
Leafhoppers are small insects with sucking mouthparts. They suck the sap from stems and leaves of plants. They are called hoppers due to their habit of leeping into the air when disturbed.
Hairstreaks are butterflies which have tiny hair-liked scales projecting rearward from their hind wings (the wings are composed of a thin membrane covered with tiny scales). Hairstreaks also have a patch of brightly colored scales on the rear portion of their wings. The butterflies tend to rub their hind wings together while perched. The combination of the movement, hair-like projections (mimic antennae), and bright scales (eyes) is supposed to fool would-be predators into attacking the rear of the butterfly, away from its real head and body, getting a mouth full of scales and wing instead of vital organs.
Soldier flies of the genus Stratiomys spend the first part of their lives in water as larvae. They breath through a tube-like projection on the rear segment of the body. They feed on algae and detritus in the water. The larvae do not have legs. I typically see them crawling across the path here at the Museum after heavy rains.
Stink bugs molt five times before becoming adults. Each stage along the way is called an instar.
Skippers are small, brown to orangish butterflies. Most hold their wings folded over their backs while perched. They fly about the landscape from flower to flower or perch to perch with an undulating, skipping flight.
Variable oakleaf caterpillars are larvae of moths. As the name implies, they are variable in color from yellowish to green, but they almost always have some brown on their backs and there is a black line on their face which is bordered by white.
Tussock moth caterpillars are covered with hair-like setae with a handful of very long setae at various places on the body. That’s why I was fooled into thinking the caterpillar below was a tussock moth when I first encountered it. It is, however, a dagger moth larva.
There are two lizards here on the Museum of Life and Science campus, five-lined skink and ground skink. Although small and cryptically colored, I see far more ground skinks than five-lined.
Finally, the fruit of strawberry bush (Euonymus americans) is bursting open and spreading its seeds.
Enjoy the cool (relatively) weather and colorful, varied wildlife.