Sunday, August 8, 2010

Watching Butterflies Through Binoculars

I spent the afternoon watching butterflies.

All I needed was my close-focus  Bushnell 7x26 Custom Compacts, my iPod (with the Wisconsin Butterflies App) and cup full of ice cubes.  

With the temperature hitting a record high of 96 and unbearable humidity after last night's storm, I expected to see lots of butterflies, in all the usual places.

I spotted 15 species - sunning on the roads, nectaring on wildflowers along the roads, feeding on scat and puddling on moist sand and mud.

I spotted hundreds of Clouded Sulphurs flitting over the alfalfa fields, nectaring on roadside wildflowers and congregating at puddles.

A surprise puddle of Mustard Whites on wet sand.  (Their larval food plants are in the mustard family - Rock Cress and Toothwort).

A dozen or so Milbert's Tortoiseshells along Dunn County Road "O" east of Meridean.  Not a surprise with all the larval food (nettles) in the ditches.  The adult Milbert's nectar on thistle and goldenrods - both starting to bloom.

I spotted Monarch Butterfly eggs and larvae, a pleasant surprise in view of the recent highway mowing.  I was sad to see all the adults dead on the road.

At first glance, I thought this Common Buckeye was just another Red Admiral.  A migrant in Wisconsin, it's the first I've ever seen other than on a postage stamp.  Their favorite nectar flowers are just starting to bloom - asters, chickory and knapweed.  Their larval food plant is plantain, gerardia and toadflax.

The other species on my list include: 

Question Mark

Eastern Comma
Red Spotted Purple


Hackberry Emperors
Northern Crescents
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails
Black Swallowtails
Eastern Tailed Blues
Red Admirals

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