Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Wanderer

When we were last at the  Norfolk Botanical Gardens in July one of the stars of  the butterfly house was the Gulf Fritillary.

We were back there yesterday and one of the things we found pretty quickly was this caterpillar.

And I had to check with BugGuide but yes it is the caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary. Now the butterfly does find its way as far north as southern Virginia but it is right at the edge of its range. So was this the child of a wanderer from the South or were its parents escapees from the butterfly house? Either way it was a surprise find.

Lots of other nice finds yesterday too in the unseasonable warmth. Its October , it shouldnt be 86f...not even here.

It being fall here, in theory at least, grasshoppers are everywhere. I found some bean plants positively alive with Obscure Bird Grasshoppers (Schistocerca obscura ) not as big as some I've found here, where they can look like locustseasily 3 inches long. But hese more than made up for size with sheer numbers. The back legs are especially striking, black with black tipped yellow spines.
 Wasps here are many and varied but happily most of the time they have much better things to do than bother passing folks. Things like building mud nests like this Black and Yellow Mud Dauber (Sceliphron caementarium)
Surprised to find a lot of frogs in shady spots around the small ponds and streams. Not surpised that they were there but surprised how laid back they all seemed. Around our own pond you get within 6 feet of most frogs and all you'll know is a "Peep!" and a splash as they disappear. But the gardens there were Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans.)
Southern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates sphenocephalus) 
And these little dark beasts I'm not sure of the identity of.

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