Saturday, September 17, 2011

Random Stuff

Earlier this week, while on our evening walk, I noticed a sulphur buttefly deceased along the side of the road.  I didn't think much of it - we often find butterflies and moths who had terminal encounters with vehicles.

But then I found another.

 And another.

And groups of them!

I only found two survivors, and this one I'm not sure actually made it.  What in the world happened?  On the way home, I counted 44 bodies in about a quarter-mile stretch.  This was not normal.  The only thing I could think of was puddling.  This road is a dirt road, and we'd recently had a fair bit of rain.  Could all these butterflies have been puddling, and then gotten run into by vehicles that either didn't see them or didn't care?  I can think of no other explanation.  

On a cheerier, note, however, we also saw this kestrel!  It really liked this oak tree (lots of birds do, especially starlings, which nest in its many cavities).  It soared around a bit, then came to rest in the tree.  Took off, flapped around, returned to rest.  I'm glad to see this bird - I haven't seen a wild kestrel for many years - just the merlins in the Adirondacks.

Meanwhile, at work, we had someone bring us this mystery caterpillar:

We looked and looked in our caterpillar ID books, but to no avail. I finally sent this shot off to BugGuide and the answer came back "dogwood sawfly."  Not a moth or caterpillar at all!  It turns out that this larva is quite a pest of dogwoods.  The adult is a fly, but looks somewhat like a wasp, but it's the larva that does the damage.  Now, I didn't see it listed as a non-native insect, so, although it does damage to dogwoods, it must be a native insect, and therefore, part of the circle of life for our native plants.  If you have ornamental dogwoods, well, that's something else.  Go native - the plants and their associated critters are used to each other.  You will get some damage, but that is natural!  Plants are food - not museum specimens.

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