Mimics and Other Amazing Springtime Sights

Top Photo: Brown thrasher belts out his best imitation of other local birds and sounds.

Like mockingbirds, thrashers (above) mimic other birds and sounds that occur in their immediate area. While mockingbirds often repeat the same phrase over and over again, thrashers tend to repeat each mimicked phrase or sound twice, then move on to the next one.

Physical mimicry is fairly common in invertebrates. Whether to avoid being eaten by predators or as a predator seeking to hunt other insects. Ant mimicry is relatively common, and spiders seem to be the most common myrmecomorphs.

Ant mimic spider on black willow leaf.

The spider pictured here was seen on a willow branch over-hanging the floating walkway in the wetlands. I’m not sure of the species to which it belongs. If anyone out there has a more specific ID please let me know.

Look closely to see all eight legs.

Overwintering as adult butterflies, anglewings often appear quite ragged by the time spring comes along. The comma below is no exception. Its tattered wings won’t carry this lepidopteran much further.

Worn comma butterfly which has spent the winter tucked away in a crevice, under tree bark, or other secure location as an adult butterfly

Below is a very fresh (newly emerged from chrysalis) relative of the comma, the question mark. They too, overwinter as adults.

A fresh comma relative, a question mark.
Note markings on underside of hindwing, somewhat question mark-shaped white markings,

Eastern tailed-blue butterflies are tiny, ground hugging butterflies. They’re gray with black markings on the undersides of their wings and blue on the uppersides. But note the orange spots and small “tails” on each of the hindwings (this individual’s “tails” are worn and shortened).

Underside of eastern-tailed blue.
The upper surface of wings shows blue.

If you see a small gray butterfly that’s constantly rubbing its hind wings together while sitting atop a flower, its probably an eastern tailed-blue.

Gray treefrogs are common here at the museum, but they’re easily overlooked because of their cryptic coloration and tendency to hide during daylight hours. Though, if you know where to look, you might spy one.

Cope’s gray treefrog spending the day in a sign post.
Maybe this sign should say “Treefrog Parking.”

Green treefrogs can be difficult to find also, even though you might think their bright green coloration would give them away.

This green treefrog is about to launch itself.

Green lacewings are nocturnal insects. They’re in the order of insects called Neuroptera (nerve winged). Their larvae feed on other insects and may actually camouflage themselves with the bodies of their prey or other debris in the area, including lichen which has given them the common name, lichen bug.

Lacewing eggs on willow twig.
Close of lacewing egg. This one has hatched.
Lacewing larva.
Lacewing larva (lichen bug) covered with lichens and other debris.

Dutchman’s pipe or pipevine is an attractive plant with pipe-shaped flowers. Pipevine is the host to pipevine swallowtail butterflies who lay their eggs on the plant.

Pipevine flower.
Pipevine swallowtail laying eggs.
Pipevine swallowtail eggs.

Keep an eye out for fledging birds. Many of our local year-round residents nest early and are finishing up with their first broods.

Newly fledged northern cardinal.
This fledgling cardinal is being fed by its parent.

This is only a small sampling of what you might see outdoors at this time of year. But, as always, if you’re not out there, you’re not going to see it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.