Sunday, August 12, 2018

HumBug: A Mixed Bag of Beauties

Posted By on Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 11:20 AM

click to enlarge A spunky little skipper on a thistle. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • A spunky little skipper on a thistle.


It's getting late in the season, the time when all the insects that overwintered as eggs have hatched, grown through their larval stages and are now wearing their adult colors.
click to enlarge Fritillary on thistle. Likely a great spangled fritillary, there are several species with subtle differences. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Fritillary on thistle. Likely a great spangled fritillary, there are several species with subtle differences.
There were quite a few of one my favorite late season butterflies out today.
A fritillary (genus Speyeria) was nectaring on thistle blossoms. I looked through my archive of photos and found almost all of the shots I have of these are on thistles. It makes sense that their maturation is timed to coincide with the blossoms on which they commonly feed.
click to enlarge Western tiger swallowtail on thistle. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Western tiger swallowtail on thistle.
Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus), our largest butterfly, feeds on almost any flower.
click to enlarge Buckeye on mint. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Buckeye on mint.
Buckeyes (Junonia coenia) sport striking eyespots and put on quite a show defending territories and pursuing mates whenever another one enters their airspace.
click to enlarge Skipper basks on redwood. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Skipper basks on redwood.
I've seen quite a few skippers (family hesperiidae) lately. This group of little butterflies are, I think, vastly under-appreciated pollinators. I have always liked the way they hold their wings at rest, like a little jet fighter.


click to enlarge Yellow and black mud dauber nectars on Queen Anne's lace. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Yellow and black mud dauber nectars on Queen Anne's lace.
A black and yellow mud dauber (genus Sceliphron), a wasp I've tried unsuccessfully to photograph before, allowed me to get a few shots. The females build mud nests and stock them with paralyzed spiders for their young.
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