Thursday, July 26, 2012

Halloween In July

We were in the Shenandoah National Park Tuesday and Wednesday. Cool and wet on Tuesday and hot and sunny Wednesday. And both days were full of bugs of all sorts including a bunch of new ones. And a very high proportion of these were orange and black. And almost all of these were somehow or other connected to Milkweed. Beginning with the Monarch whos caterpillars feed on the Milkweed plant.

The Monarch caterpillar getting its fill of Milkweed and at the same time making itself deeply unpaletale to predators. Which is why everyone wants to look like a Monarch of course

These were everywhere as we travelled Skyline Drive looking at views like this in rain

and shine

And everywhere I looked I found more Milkweed and Joe Pye Weed and more orange and black bugs.

Large Milkweed Bugs ( Oncopeltus fasciatus ) as we have found at home before.

And this, entirely new to me Longhorn, the Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

Not associated with the Milkweed is this Black and Yellow Lichen Moth (Lycomorpha pholus).

There is an area of the National Park called Big Meadows which is surprise surprise a very big meadow. This is full of wild flowers and grasses and supports enormous numbers of grassland butterflies like Fritillaries. When we parked there was a muddy spot left from Tuesdays showers and it was full of all sorts of butterflies taking water and salts from the mud in a behavior called puddling.
This pic really doesnt do justice to the numbers involved. Most in this picture are Pearl Crescents (Phyciodes tharos ).
Seen better here a little closer. But there were also Sulfers and Fritillaries. Particularly lovely is the Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona) not the same butterfly as the European Meadow Fritillary (Mellicta parthenoides)
Last for todays post is another orange and lack beetle by the name of the Larger Elm Leaf Beetle (Monocesta coryli). Its clearly not one that gets its picture taken that often, BugGuide has only 23 images of this one...including the 2 I posted this morning.

Last? Oh no I almost forgot these. Not a bug but everyone seems very excited about....the Black Bear pictures. Long lens of course for this 300 lb bear.

Moths tomorrow once I've done ID'ing all the ones have turned up on the porch over the last week.

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