Friday, March 27, 2015

Springing to life, part two

Instead of visiting the bluebonnets, many of the butterflies that I saw this weekend were gathered around several large lantana bushes.

A fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on lantana flowers.
Some of the butterflies, such as the fiery skipper above and the red admiral below, remained focused on the flowers despite the approaching camera (and camera wielder).

A red admiral (Vanessa atalanta).
However, a couple of other species were consistently more challenging to approach.  Common buckeyes have the tantalizing tendency to fly just a few feet away each time I get almost close enough for a good shot (which has led to several very low-speed chases).

A common buckeye (Junonia coenia).
Meanwhile, with cloudless sulfur butterflies, I would have only one chance to approach as non-threateningly as I could.  If disturbed, these butterflies would nearly always disappear off into the woods...

A cloudless sulfur (Phoebis sennae).
...and they were very easily disturbed!

The cloudless sulfur dropping backwards off the flowers in order to fly away.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Springing to life, part one

Just in time for the first days of spring, the Texas bluebonnets spread from sparse glimpses of blue to cover all the nearby meadows.

A field of Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) in bloom.
Though the bluebonnets were not yet swarmed with visitors (the way they were last spring at the peak of their bloom), I found a variety of insects on the blossoms, including honey bees, lady beetles...

A seven-spotted lady beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) on a bluebonnet inflorescence. 
...and even large, menacing wasps.

A paper wasp (Polistes sp.) feeding from bluebonnet flowers.
However, the many butterflies that also appeared with the mild spring weather were mostly attracted to another type of flower.  To be continued...

Friday, March 13, 2015

The caterpillars eat their match, part three

Compared to the orange-barred sulphur butterflies, adult geometrid moths do not appear very active (at least not during the day)...

A pale beauty moth (Campaea perlata).
...and most of them are not very bright or flashy.

A large lace-border moth (Scopula limboundata).
However, geometrid caterpillars can be just as impressive as orange-barred sulfur caterpillars when it comes to blending in with the flowers that they eat.

A purple geometrid caterpillar on purple flowers.
In addition, at least some geometrid caterpillars have the same ability to change their color in order to match their background.  

A pink geometrid caterpillar on a pink rose blossom.
Although many geometrid species feed on other parts of plants (and mimic those instead), there are well over a thousand species of geometrid moths in North America -- including plenty of ones with colorful, flower-eating caterpillars.  See a few more of them here: Geometrid larvae on flowers