Saturday, July 26, 2014

NMW: Halysidota harrisii (Observations, Frustrations, Ponderings & Pic Spam)

Halysidota harrisii (Adult: Female I think) 06-15-14

Finally........I get to properly write about these. I say finally because they've been in some weird decline in the past few years here and I do not know why. They used to be almost as common as Pieris rapae here with the larvae in all stages and color variants (white~gray~yellow~yellow brown) adorning the fences outside my house & beyond. They were an integral part of my childhood and I have very fond memories of the caterpillars (my mother running screaming down the walkway when one almost got on her had I not warned her. XD Taking them to school etc) and the adults perched on the buildings and underneath awnings. Finding them flitting through the air ethereal and fairy like with their yellow-ish almost white transparency.and chasing after them reveling in their beauty as they walked around on my hand before flying off again.

Until they all but disappeared.

And I don't know why. From 2007 onward I literally watched as their numbers dropped drastically for reasons unknown, until I literally didn't see even one (2012?) and eventually they started trickling back in. But I still don't see them as often as I'd like but at least it seems they're trying to make a comeback. I'm rooting for them. Observations this year as follows:

06-15-14 1 Adult
06-27-14 1 larva (2nd~3rd instar?) White
07-20-14 1 larva (3rd~4th instar?) White/Off white/gray
07-26-14 1 larva (5th~6th instar?)  Golden Yellow

So far that makes 4 after today. And I have questions.

1. Exactly how many instars does this species have?
2. Is there anything on their biology/life histories?

The second one is bugging me. I went searching to see if I could find anything and the most I could find is a detailed report on a 40 something year old guy who had an allergic reaction (see here) after handling one. I never had any problems with them. While continuing my search for info I decided to read Wikipedia's entry on them and it pissed me off........badly.

First off they basically fail to mention that the supposed irritant properties of the setae (hairs) of the caterpillars induce reactions only in certain people. What they're basically telling you is not to handle them at all and they don't bother to back their supposed info either. No references links as to what the article is based on.

I will repeat myself. I have handled probably hundreds of them and I never had a problem with them.

07-20-14

From today 07-26-14

As I said before I found this lovely angel in my lobby on the floor and proceeded to "rescue" it, take it upstairs and get pics & release it. I was tempted to keep it to see if it would spin a cocoon but decided to release it in the end simply due to the fact that there's practically nothing on them so I wouldn't know how to properly rear them to adulthood. I did try last year but sadly wasn't successful.

I want to wait till I have more information. Like aside from host (Sycamores Platanus spp. Wiki mentions them feeding on Platanus occidentalis we have Platanus x acerfolia here only which they obviously have no problems with) where do they pupate? Do they spin cocoons? If they do where do they spin them? Between leaves? On twigs or sides of trees/buildings/other flat surfaces? Do they burrow underground to pupate?

I don't know this so I obviously decided to wait & obtain more info. Problem is there isn't any!! I haven't been able to find anything on their life cycles or biology and it's frustrating. I did however observe a possible defensive behavior in this individual. When startled it would "flinch", retract it's head & clamp down on whatever surface it was on (in this case a paper towel):


Which prompts even more questions:

1. What are their defences (besides this apparently) against predators?
2. They're brightly colored surely aside from a mouth full of apparently irritant setae they're distasteful??

Dear Lord someone needs to research these already!!

From the release

And because I simply can't help myself, some videos too:





Enjoy!! I've spammed you enough. I hope though that I can properly find out about these. Surely there has to be more info somewhere.

Until next time! Happy National Moth Week!!

ɛïɜ

Friday, February 07, 2014

NHM Butterfly Exhibit Visit #11

Actias luna...........♥ Last photo of the day since cam battery had completely died right after taking this shot of this magnificent angel. 

11th visit after not being able to visit for 4 months because life was crazy. XD I dare say this one was worth the wait. So many lovelies I haven't had the pleasure of seeing before and so many I haven't seen enough of (*cough* Actias luna *cough*). I do however have a bone to pick with them........maybe not them but the Department of Agriculture definitely.

See as I walked in I looked around for the Saturniids as I always do and since I didn't obviously spot any right away I asked the staff if they had any moths to which the guy I asked pointed me over to this lovely angel:


Seeing this prompted me to do 2 things:

1. Take shit loads of photos
2. Ask why in the world is she (it's a female) in a whatchamacallit (I have no idea what you call these "containers" other then I have a few and plan to get more and they can be used for butterflies/moths and laundry :P)?

So when I asked why she was in this cage I was told because they aren't allowed to breed the moths and it's also due to worries/concerns of "cross contamination with foreign species". This is what the Department of Agriculture (DoA for short from here on out) is worried about. Also apparently due to last years Saturniid orgy fest (they had a bunch of Attacus atlas and Rothschildia lebeau mating & laying eggs all over the place) they implemented this ridiculous rule.

They're also doing it down in Florida too from what I was told. All female moths have to be "quarantined" so they don't lay eggs everywhere and risk "contaminating species". And parasites (which I would think the farms these come from would check for so that's BS). The entire thing is BS due to the fact:

1. The moths aren't allowed to mate but the butterflies are. (Observed P. memnon and Heliconius mating/courting)

1a. When I pointed out the P. memon mating the staff said "Oh yeah they've been going at it for hours" XD -_-

2. The DoA has nothing to worry about because any (tropical) moths wouldn't survive the winters here (except A. luna H. cecropia C. promethea & A. polyphemus to name a few because they're native here and they overwinter as cocoons).

2a. Any parasites of tropical Saturniids would not survive our winters they would freeze to death point blank.

*Sigh* it's ridiculous. Also may I point out that the luna in the first photo is a female and it's out in the open. Egads! *sarcasm*  Anyway enjoy the pics:

She had laid eggs in the corner. Incredible tiny things they were. 

Ascia monuste threesome?!!

Papilio nireus!! First time seeing one.......♥

New Additions: 

1. Papilio nireus
2. Pachliopta aristolochiae
3. Papilio polytes f. romulus (males) *previous visit had females
4. Unidentified Charaxes sp.?
5. Heliconius hybrids
6. Unidentified yellow Pierid (Eurema nicippe??)

Heliconius pachinus I LOVE how this came out. ♥

Ornithoptera priamus euphorion (?) This was an honor to hold.

Ok I'll spam you more later. :P Until next time......♥


ɛïɜ

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Out With a Bang

Vespula maculifrons Queen which may or may not have been still kicking 12-28-13

They were amazing.......last and latest bug hunt of the year. The latest they were out was in November 2011......felt like Spring that day. Today it felt like Spring yet again and I was greatly awarded with all sorts of birds and assorted creepy crawlies.......and a surprise from my lepidopteran friends.

I had originally gone to the park to look for cocoons of various moths.....and maybe butterfly chrysalids or overwintering Polygonia spp. or Nymphalis antiopa and while I didn't find any of those.........I DID find something of a mystery lodged in one of the normally bug infested logs.

Mystery moth pupae 12-28-13

I wonder what exactly made this......so many many possibilities.

It was discussed via facebook & twitter and the possibilities are endless.....

Woodboring Erebidae
Notodontidae (Cerura and Furcula spp. specifically)
Cossidae (Prionoxystus robiniae)

To name a few of what it could be........Notodontids of the genera Cerura & Furcula I haven't seen here in any shape or form nor have I seen Prionoxystus robiniae or any of the other 3 Eastern N. American Cossidae. The pupa wasn't "large" by any means......but it wasn't "small" either. Medium? And skinny....but not too skinny.

Providing the weather is nice again after the snow we're supposed to get in a few days. I'll go back and see if it's still there and try and get better pics and maybe try and get it out. I tried but it seemed like it was stuck in there pretty tightly.

Silken pads most likely......and the added protection of a deep enough notch in a log. ^^* Another question though is when did it emerge? Last time I was there (Oct 15th) I didn't see it there but then again I wasn't looking for cocoons or pupae/chrysalids then since the adults of various lepidopterans were out pollinating the last of the flowers.

My only guess it that it was over looked. It wouldn't make sense for it to have crawled in there say late/early October pupated and then emerged on an abnormally warm Autumn/winter day only to eventually freeze to death. Don't have the climate for them to do that "successfully".

But I wouldn't rule anything out at this point. But the possibility of it being overlooked is more likely. Hope to find more this year......♥



Some kind of ground beetle?

No clue!! Was a shock to find this and many others zipping about. Midges/craneflies (these were in some sort of swarm) another beetle in flight, slugs, milipedes, centipedes.......woodlice. Oh it was wonderful not to mention the birds.



Juncos!! Some friends had confirmed these are juncos and I had also learned that there might be a junco species complex (Idk if that would be the right term here but Idk that much about birds to begin with) since the "experts had lumped them all together" so to speak according to said friends.

Aren't they just darling little things? Here's another:



I have many more but I'll post those in another post as once again I've probably ranted enough about my precious lovely little friends.....but I can't help it. *^^*

Until next time.

ɛïɜ


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Moth Count 2013

Helicoverpa zea 09-17-13 ~ 09-18-13

So I've decided to document all the moths I've seen this year that I've ID'd and more or less ID'd. I had already more or less done this in a journal of sorts (along with every other insect/spider) I've seen earlier in the season due to the lack of a camera.

I continued after purchasing another camera out of habit and utter enjoyment I got from doing so. Also since I wasn't able to participate in National Moth Week (due to lack of camera and the weather being entirely inappropriate for moth hunting the entire week) this I think more then makes up for it I think. I'm wondering if I could submit these anywhere......at least the ones I was able to photograph??

*Note these aren't in order......exactly......just listing for convenience and enjoyment. Dates added when possible.

June

Campaea perlata 06-05-13 (Flat Rock Nature Reserve NJ)*
1 Unidentified "Zebra patterned" moth 06-05-13 (Flat Rock Nature Reserve)**
Dichomeris picrocarpa 06-05-13 (Tenafly (sp?) NJ)
Eido trimaculata 06-05-13 (Tenafly NJ) 
Hypena sp. 06-21-13

August

Costaconvexa centrostrigaria (2) 08-15-13
Hyphantria cunea 08-15-13
Pleuroprucha insulsaria 09-15-13
Autographa precationis 09-20-13
Elasmopalpus lignosellus 08-24-13
Mythimna unipuncta 08-27-13
Eupithecia miserualata 09-19-13
Dolichomia sp. Dolichomia olinalis? 08-24-13
Unidentified micro moth 08-27-13


September

Autographa precationis 09-06-13***
Orthonama obstipata 09-07-13
Unidentified Moth 09-12-13 Speculations of what it could've been:

Spiramater lutra
Mamestra aurialis
Apamea dubitans
Condica vecors
Acronicta afflicta

*Note: All the moths listed above have similar wing colors & patterns to the one on my terrace that night. I was unfortunately unable to capture it to confirm it's identity. This pisses me off greatly......sneaky little buggers. :P

Spoladea recurvalis 10-01-13 Saw about 5-6 of these throughout the season. First sighting was on 09-17-13. Was an utter bitch to ID but soooo much fun. *^^*

Caradrina montana 09-14-13 ~ 09-15-13 (1 for each night!)
Noctua pronuba 09-15-13 *Female looked gravid
Helicoverpa zea 09-17-13 ~ 09-18-13
Emmelina monodactyla 09-29-13
Canarsia ulmiarrosorella 09-29-13
Coleophora pruniella (Possibly.......guessing here...seen only briefly before it took off) 09-29-13

Atteva aurea 10-02-13 Hadn't seen these in a looooooong time. 

October

Spoladea recurvalis 10-01-13 ~10-10-13
Hypena scabra (?) 10-10-13

Halysidota harrisii caterpillar *Date unknown atm
Pyralis farinalis *Dates unknown atm
Spodoptera ornithogalli *Date unknown

A VERY cold Hypena scabra (Date unknown) It's very much alive. Not to worry. *^^*

Notes:

*Campaea perlata was found on the most EPIC bug hunt of the year. My friend had taken me up to New Jersey to see the cicadas and other assorted angels. Pics later.....in another entry. I think I've spammed you all enough. :P

** Unidentified "Zebra moth" was small.......not as small as some other moths I've seen
*** Autographa precationis was quite plentiful this year. Seen on numerous occasions throughout the season. A few of them might also have been Spodoptera ornithogalli......it's surprising how much they can look alike from a distance. XD

Additional Notes:

*Dichomerus picrocarpa & Eido trimaculata were both seen up at my friends house after the cicada fest. Skippers and Tiger Swallowtails joined in along with NUMEROUS other creepy crawly LOVELY angels of all sorts.

Oki doki that just about wraps this up for now.......will be edited as needed of course. Many firsts for me this season (and there's more to tell!!). Deliriously happy about all that's occurred bug wise. I only hope it gets even better with coming new year.

Speaking of which I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Bug infested 2014.

God bless!

ɛïɜ

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Monarchs 2013

Danaus plexippus (Male) 10-15-13 3rd and last monarch of the season at the park by my house

As you know monarchs are declining year after year. This year I've only seen 3 and the year before I saw about maybe 20 give or take throughout the entire season (I wasn't able to get photos because these were almost always in flight like they were on a mission)!! This year I'm proud to say I've gotten pictures & videos of the blessed angels on 2 occasions.

The one pictured above was an absolute pleasure and honor to observe. I made a point of pointing it out to anyone who passed by while I was taking pictures (this is the best one out of maybe 10 attempts) of it feeding on the buddleia. It was a male. I hope it made it to Mexico okay.

Danaus plexippus (Female) 10-12-13 Bronx Zoo outside the restrooms

This one I had spotted in the treetops during my trip to the Bronx Zoo. What a pleasant surprise. I'm also happy to report that they FINALLY planted a nice patch of milkweed in the park by my house. Orange Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa?) I hope it helps the monarchs that fly through here immensely.

The first one I had spotted I wasn't able to to get pictures of due to the lack of a camera (I had unfortunately lost my old one) and the fact that it flew by me so quickly it would've been impossible to do so any way. XD It came out of nowhere just as I was pondering whether or not I'd see any this year........coincidence? I don't think so.

That wouldn't be the first time butterflies (in general) popped up in ways that make me wonder........especially this year. Any way, as for the monarchs I'll do everything I can to support them and spread the awareness that they need our help badly. Including keeping track of them and seeing if I can get some milkweed for my own purposes.....we'll see.

Here's a video of the first one: Click!! (Facebook doesn't allow you embed videos anymore bummer)

Until next time!!

ɛïɜ


Saturday, April 27, 2013

I.F.B. Common's Moths of Australia

Plate from I.F.B. Common's Moths of Australia 04-25-13

FINALLY!!

I get to read this magnum opus. The NHM has a research library and they have........everything. It's magnificent and I was so content in there surrounded by dozens of books on my precious angels. But the most coveted one was I.F.B Common's Moths of Australia which I'll be ranting about.

First off this book is one of, if not THE most well written pieces of literature on our Heteroceran friends and it's something I've wanted for a very very long time. Sadly for reasons currently unknown (I'm trying to find out why) the book is out of print and thus insanely hard to get a hold of.

Sometime last year I found out the museum had a library and well........you can guess what happened next. I went searching their archives to see if they had it during my hunt for a copy and lo and behold they did. And I finally got to read a nice big chunk of it (they don't let anyone check out books, not even the staff! Unless under special circumstances) and take a shitload of notes. My hand was cramping toward the end of the day.......ohhhh it was wonderful.

This magnum opus of a book has both color and black and white photos a very nice layout of all the moth families found in Australia and insanely wonderfully well written descriptions of their life cycles, behavior, species themselves, everything. In short Mr. Common is a genus and has my full and utter respect and idolization.

I can fully understand why people would flip their shit over this book (as I have done) it's everything I thought it would be and more.

It also has occurred to me that I think these might be the first photos of this book online.........holy shit. I haven't found any except for the cover while searching online to see where I could possibly purchase a copy.

Bring on the photos:

Utter perfection!


One of the main reasons this book was of particular interest to me besides the obvious was the extensive information on the Epipyropidae whose larvae are parasites on various species of Homopterans. Epipyropids are yet another rule breaker of the "typical rules of Lepidoptera".

For example Common states that:

1. Larvae of Epipyropidae have been recorded on lepidopterous larvae
2. Females of Agamopsyche threnodes (Epipyropidae) are *PARTHENOGENETIC*

PARTHENOGENETIC LEPIDOPTERA PEOPLE!!

Holy. Shit.

If I remember correctly a while back I think stated something on the possibility of parthenogenetic lepidoptera, if there were any or something along the lines and that how I didn't see how that could be possible blah blah blah.

And how course I was open to any possibility of there being any......and look what happens. Holy shit. There's so much to rant about involving this book. I want to go back there and try and see if I can read the entire thing cover to cover.

I think it's doable. We'll have to see. I'll post more photos in other entries (there's more books to rant about) since for some reason I'm having trouble uploading more pics.

God bless you I.F.B Common.

ɛïɜ

Mystery Swallowtail - Heraclides anchisiades

Heraclides anchisiades? 03-22-13

I'm more then certain that this is Heraclides anchisiades. For a while though I was researching various other similarly patterned swallowtails and giving myself rather "pleasant" headaches trying to figure out what this is.



My friend had thought it was Papilio rogeri pharneces and I was inclined to agree until my second visit where I looked in their book and saw Heraclides anchisiades listed in there and went home and did research. I found this that further told me that this is/was most likely H. anchisiades.

Of course this is all still open to speculation but I'm 99.9% sure this is H. anchisiades.......I'd like to know what subspecies if possible. I don't know if the pics/vids are clear enough to determine that but........^^;;




Another one.

Interesting huh?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

NHM Butterfly Exhibit #10

Papilio palinurus or Papilio daedalus 

Visit #10!! This was magnificent as always. Because it's towards the end of the season it was alot calmer and not so many people and not as many butterflies but still plentiful. Hmmm lets see....there were TONS of atlas moths. At least 4-5 of them hidden throughout the blessed place and I managed to get some extremely nice photos of my lovely angels.

I also had Heliconius cydno and Idea leucanoe adorn my hat for atleast an hour each. They simply wouldn't leave and in the case of Idea leucanoe I would've walked out the door with it had the staff not "intervened" (I was all for taking it home too :P).

Obeservations:

Papilio palinurus

There were 2. First one was perched up in the vegetation second one was flying around and had brushed against me and landed on the floor. One of the staff had picked it up and it was off flying again. It had reached the heat lights and the feeders. And I guess the light from the light fixtures emphasized this but as it was flying around the green of it's wings changed from green to blue to green again in various shades streaked with gold and silver.......*.* Like glitter.

I must stress to you how breathtaking this was. This verse never rang truer:

"Safe and warm I was born in a beige colored coat
Then I traded for wings built to dazzle and float....."

 ɛïɜ

 I was standing there with my mouth open. Literally. It then settled on the vegetation and I proceeded to get pics (see above). And if you look hard enough you can see said iridescence and the fact that the green is darker here then lets say this one:

This one was perched high up and away from nearby light sources. Species wise friends and I were speculating between P. palinurus & P. daedalus. But I'm 99% sure is palinurus. I'll rant on this later in another entry. They had these here before on 2 other occasions but this is my first interaction with them.

All the other times they were just perched somewhere out of the way and then they'd vanish and not be seen again. XD So this was beyond lovely. And they're my new fave after today.

Danaus plexippus

They had more of them today then I ever remember them having within the 9 other times I've been here. I've observed something today that I never knew about my precious lovelies. They too are iridescent. The black wing tips of monarchs have a blue iridescence to them under light.

It was GORGEOUS!! *.*

New Additions:

1. Heliconius cydno galanthus f. exornata (?)
2. Hamadryas (Ageronia) amphione 
3. Papilio polytes f. romulus (Female)
4. Possible Anaea andria
And 2 nymphalids that may or may not be "new". I think one of them was a Chocolate Pansy (Junonia iphita) which I've already listed and the other is one of the leafwings but I don't recognize it.


Any ideas as to what this lovely angel might be? Only thing I can think of based on wing shape is Anaea andria, and if that's the case then another new lovely angel has to be officially added to the ever growing list. ^_^

Inputs and suggestions always appreciated.

ɛïɜ