Tom's Blog

Monday, June 22, 2009

Butterfly trip at Pleasant Valley Conservancy

We were pleased to host a field trip for the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association on Saturday, June 20. Kathie and I were co-leaders with Ann Thering of SWBA. This trip was sponsored jointly by The Prairie Enthusiasts and Madison Audubon Society.

The weather had been rainy for several days, which kept the butterflies down, but the day of the trip had fantastic weather, sunny and not too hot. The butterflies really cooperated, and trip participants were very pleased.

The photo below shows a couple of participants photographing a fritillary among flowering purple milkweeds. Purple milkweed (State Endangered), fairly common at Pleasant Valley Conservancy, was in the early stages of flowering.

The species list below was provided by Ann.

Black swallowtail: 1
Giant swallowtail: 2
Eastern tiger swallowtail: 5
Clouded sulphur: 1
Orange sulphur: 1
Bronze copper: 1
Banded hairstreak: 2
'Summer' Spring Azure: 15+
Great spangled fritillary: 10+
Aphrodite fritillary: 2
Meadow fritillary: 5
Silvery checkerspot: 10+
Pearl Crescent: 4
Baltimore checkerspot: 15+
Eastern comma: 1
Red-spotted purple: 4
Viceroy: 3
Little wood-satyr: 6
Monarch: 2
Silver-spotted skipper: 2
Northern cloudywing: 2
Juvenal's duskywing: 2
Least skipper: 1
European skipper: 12+
Tawny-edged skipper: 1
Long dash: 4

In addition to butterflies, the participants had the opportunity of observing a colony of Ichneumonid wasps that had set up housekeeping in a dead tree near our cabin. These complex creatures were drilling neat holes into which they were laying eggs. The egg depositing mechanism of these creatures is quite complex and fascinating to watch.


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