My Atalopedes Paper

This paper was rejected by the Lepidopterists Society because I did not make a clear enough distinction between “perching” and “roosting.” The latter involves shade-seeking, while perching means sitting on an elevated leaf or flower and watching for passing insects to harass. Anyway, the point of the paper should be clear. Atalopedes skippers modify their behaviors at high temperatures to avoid overheating. They can’t tolerate temperatures above about 40°C, so if the Texas thorn-scrub savanna warms beyond that, they’ll move north. I would.

1.png23 Continue reading “My Atalopedes Paper”

Challenge: Alphabetical Poems

Try this. Write a poem that uses each letter of the alphabet in sequence, allowing up to five articles and prepositions per verse, in lightface type. To allow five words (letters) in each line, A, B, C, and D are repeated at the end to make 30 words. Go for it. Here are four examples. If you can think of better word sequences, let me know!

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 4.21.56 PM

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 4.22.10 PM

 

Latest butterfly records yet

Until this fall, the 22nd of November was the latest date on which I observed butterflies. But this fall I have records from five dates in November and six dates in December, through the 20th, one day short of the solstice. On December 12th I found Colias eurytheme (alfalfa butterfly), Colias philodice (clouded sulfur), and Nathalis iole (dainty sulfur) on the wing in good numbers. On 16 December, Nathalis iole was about, basking laterally against the dark soil on a hillside. And on the 20th, Nathalis iole again, three of them. The previous record for this species was F. Martin Brown’s 3 December 1954 observation. Combined with last February’s records, we now have only about 48 days of butterfly-less weather! Here is Nathalis iole.DSC04834.jpg

Colias eurytheme (alfalfa butterfly)DSC04836.jpg

Colias philodice (clouded sulfur)DSC04838.jpg

Autographa californica (California signature moth)DSC04858.jpg

And Nathalis iole, the latest-flying butterfly on record, with a date stamp, one day before the winter solstice.DSC04899.jpg

 

Trail Building: My Forté

People don’t usually appreciate how hard it is to build a good trail. Often, the process begins by removing fallen trees. This is particularly taxing if they weigh over ten tons, which many of them do. I strained my knee on this one.PICT0007.JPG

But I was able to stand this one back up, luckily.holding up tree.jpeg

And I was able to push these apart so they wouldn’t fall. This is the best strategy, but you might have to hold them for a few years while they adjust.PICT0086.jpg

Sometimes you can just bend them down and out of the way.PICT0270.JPG

Some people cut them and push the halves to either side of the trail, like I’m doing here.PICT0016.JPG

Other times, a flying kick move is necessary to make the logs move.PICT0017.JPG

And this is to say nothing of the rocks. OMG, some of them require enormous strength to move off the trail. Luckily, I’m up to it, although I shook the ground with this one, which blurred the photograph slightly. Sorry.PICT0123.jpg

I had to pull and slide this one across another rock. Very hard. Tremendously hard.PICT0015.JPG

And on rare occasions, you have to use a karate chop. Can you see my black belt?DSC02194.jpg

I once gave this lecture at the high school where I taught for many years, during Morning Meeting on Monday. I ran the projector from the back of the auditorium, speaking into a mike, and I could hear the freshmen saying, “Oh, give me a break. Who is he kidding? He couldn’t move those things!” So I added to my monologue. “Some people doubt my ability to do these amazing things, but here it is, before your very eyes.” Thanks to Katie for taking these photos while offering encouragement while I worked.

 

What a Summer!

Looking back, this was one of the best summers of my life. To begin with, it was the earliest spring in my fifty years of record keeping, with emergent butterflies flying in February, and a strong flight through March. Then the huge May freeze!DSC02488.jpgDSC02468.jpgDSC02499.jpg

Then, red tailed hawks nesting in the back yard. I never imagined that.DSC02862.jpg

Then, other birds, both on the mountain and in the garden.DSC02939.jpgDSC01531.jpg

And mothing! I had the pleasure of collecting moths in several areas, some new to me: Blodgett Peak Open Space, Ute Valley Park, Bluestem Prairie Open Space, Rock Creek Canyon, and Baculite Mesa. Keeping track of all those moths isn’t easy. I added 37 new records for the Pikes Peak Region, bringing my current total to 2073 species.

DSC03876.jpg

And the garden OMG, what a year for the flowers!DSC01710.jpgDSC03440.jpg

And the July rains!

DSC02982 2.JPGDSC04217.jpg

I heard that it was the wettest July on record. So, up came the mushrooms. We found about 40 species on one hike in Bear Creek.

DSC04016.jpg

And July on Shelf Road, the amazing rabbit bot fly!DSC03605.jpg

And rare butterflies. The third record of Nymphalis californica and the fourth record of Adelpha eulalia in El Paso County.

DSC03964.jpgDSC04289.jpg

Plus many new records of the butterflies like the pigmy blue, Brephidium exile (photo by Tim Leppek), which reminds me of Eric Eaton and all the new friends I found on the Arthropods Colorado Facebook Group. That’s been a load of fun. (What will we do in the winter?)

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 5.37.51 PM.png

So it was an amazing summer. I already have seasonal affective disorder from the 7:30 twilight. I can’t wait until spring.

Leucism in Lepidoptera

Albinism and leucism are rare in Lepidoptera. If you google “Albinism and Leucism in Lepidoptera” you’ll find thousands of photos of mammals, birds, and reptiles, but only a scattering of leps, some of which are white species, not leucistics. The obvious exception is a white luna moth, which is normally green. But the photo is labeled “Albino,” while the dark ocelli stand out on all four wings. It is a leucistic. Leucism is caused by recessive alleles that don’t produce the normal pigments. Albinism is an extreme case of this in which all of the alleles are dysfunctional.

I found a Vanessa cardui that is partially leucistic, feeding with hundreds of normal morphs on Chrysothamnus bushes. I show it here with a normal form below.

DSC04627.jpgDSC04629.jpgIMG_8057.jpgIMG_8061.jpg