Looking Back: Insects

With the closing of the year it’s perhaps time to look back and see what we’ve observed on the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop. Below, in the appropriate segments, I give totals for some of the species seen since January of last year.

This past year I’ve tallied 27 species of odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) on the Explore the Wild/Catch the Wind Loop. To some that may seem like a large number. Considering that there are about 190 species to be seen in North Carolina, you may be justified in saying that 27 species is a rather small number. No doubt, a few species may have gotten by me, but I think that 27 is a fair number of species given the habitat here at the Museum. What we typically see at the Museum are, for the most part, generalist, those species that can breed in the type of water that makes up the Wetlands and which also occurs at numerous sites throughout the state. These are species which do not require “unique” conditions to breed. There are exceptions such as the Mocha Emerald (see Mocha Emerald, Explore the Wild Journal, July 16-31, 2008) found this past summer. Mocha Emeralds are not generalists and are usually found at small shaded woodland streams of which there are two just off the beaten path at the Museum.

Some species of odonate can only breed in fast-moving streams, some prefer acidic water for breeding, while still others may only breed in small woodland seeps. Each may have its own requirements for quality of water and time of year in which they breed and fly. But, in general, what we see at the Museum are the species that are, in most cases, found throughout the state where ever there happens to be a pool of water. I’m sure we’ll see a few more species in the coming year. It won’t be long before we’ll be seeing Fragile Forktails emerging. It was March 9th when I first noticed them last year.

I didn’t keep a tally of the numerous butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers and other insects that were seen during this past year. Perhaps that can be a goal for next year. There were many expected species, as well as a few surprises, this past year. I’m sure we’ll see more of both in the year to come.

Unexpected, but not surprising given the warmth of the most recent few weeks, was a Cloudless Sulphur seen on the very warm 28th of December. It was a female.

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