Friday, September 28, 2007


On Sunday, I saw a Common Buckeye Junonia coenia on my New England Asters. It co-operated for me by feeding for more than an hour, so that I could watch and photograph (until I could not edit any more images - over 50). My daughter says I saw one in her insect collection 20 years ago but I have not seen one again, until now. It sure is pretty.

Photo taken at Murray Lake, MI on 9/23/2007All summer I have been taking pictures of butterflies in my garden. The Monarch Danaus plexippus remains a favorite, especially when it poses on my butterfly weed.

Photo taken at Murray Lake, MI on 7/21/2007At Luddington State Park, couple of weekends ago, I saw a Monarch caterpillar on its favorite food, a milkweed plant.
Photo taken at Luddington SP, MI on 9/23/2007 I took the next picture on the Keweenaw Peninsula, in Upper Michigan last summer. I thought I was taking a picture of a Monarch and it wasn't until I was reviewing my photos, that I recognized that it was not a Monarch at all! It was a Viceroy Limenitis archippus which mimics the Monarch. I have never before seen a Viceroy in the field. Notice the black bar across the hind wing on the Viceroy.

Photo taken at Hunter's Point, Copper Harbor, MI on 8/4/2006 I also took some pictures of the Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemtis feeding on my Purple cone flower. Again, I did not know what butterfly this was. While reviewing my pictures, I remembered a similar butterfly that I had seen in Texas this spring. When seen from the side as in these 2 photos, the Red-spotted Purple is similar to the Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor. Their ranges overlap only along the Gulf states in southern US, but I don't keep range maps in my head (that's why I own books). Now that I have worked with my photos so much, I hope to remember the differences between these butterflies.

Photo taken at Murray Lake, MI on 7/21/2007
Photo taken at Santa Ana NWR, TX on 3/19/2007 I don't know if you have the same problem as I have: that it doesn't matter how many times I have studied the flower, butterfly, or bird in a book, it is not until I have see it live in the field that I can remember its identification marks and recognize it the next time.

Happy butterflying! (Yes, it will become an accepted verb soon!)

The references and gear I used for this blog are:

Camera: Canon EOS 10D
Lens: Canon EF100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS USM
Steiner 10x42 Predator Binoculars
Kaufman Focus Guides - Butterflies
Butterflies through Binoculars The East
Butterflies of the Great Lakes
Caterpillars of Eastern North America
Caterpilliars in the Field and Garden

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Summer Insects

It has been 2 months since I last wrote a blog. I thought it would be easy to publish a short piece about the pictures that I have taken. Instead, I went to visit my 2 grandchildren, not once but twice, and would go today in a heart beat.

Next, I have spent a lot of time working in my garden: I dug up all my bearded-iris and they are waiting for a soil test and then need to be replanted; I dug up all my narcissus and daffodils, which were planted 10 years ago, and now the bulbs were so close together, they could not produce blooms any longer. These I have replanted. Lastly, I also ordered 300 tulips which will arrive in a couple of weeks for planting. Next spring, my garden should look fabulous (I hope).

I did take some pictures though. I always notice birds whenever I am outside but bird-photo ops are not so frequent. Like many birders, I am interested in butterflies, dragonflies and interesting insects or bugs. Here are a few I saw recently.

A couple weeks ago, I saw a small brown and white moth on the ceiling in the hallway of my home. I caught it in a small jar and took it outside to photograph. But I bumped the jar and it escaped. I researched it on line and identified it as a Grape Leaf Folder Desmia funeralis. However, the next day, I saw it on the side of the house near the door and this time I got my picture. I am pretty sure it was the same moth still near the door it had entered the day before. The interesting thing about this moth is that it usually hides underneath the grape leaf.

Photo taken at Murray Lake, MI on 7/30/2007

This summer, I have seen more Honey Bees Apis mellifera than in past summers. I know that honeys bees are dying from unknown causes, so I am happy to see more of them. How could I not photograph this bee, searching for nectar on Purple Loosestrife which, despite its invasiveness, is a very pretty flower.
Photo taken at Murray Lake, MI on 7/21/2007Free wallpaper (desktop background) for personal use
Click on above picture, then on next picture right-click and set as background

Another bee that I found fascinating, is a Sweat Bee species Halictus. This is a small bee with yellow legs and was perfectly camouflaged on the Brown-eyed Susans.

Photo taken at Murray Lake, MI on 6/28/2007
Last weekend at Luddington State Park, MI, I saw a cicada fly by and land in a pine tree. It, a member of Tibicen species, was not hard to find. Cicadas are one of my favorite insects because of their song, and where I live, they usually start to sing between Jul 1 and Jul 14. Now summer is really here!

Photo taken at Luddington SP, MI on 9/15/2007
Later, on the sandy path, there was another interesting bug with a white and black pattern. According to Kenn Kaufman, this beetle always attracts attention. I had never before seen this beetle, a Cottonwood Borer Plectrodera scalator.

Photo taken at Luddington SP, MI on 9/15/2007

I took more bug pictures than bird pictures this summer.

The references and gear I used for this blog are:

Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
Camera: Canon EOS 10D
Lens: Canon EF100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS
Steiner 10x42 Predator Binoculars