December 16, 2016 at 7:04 am (birds, botany, mammals, plant-eating insects, restoration)
Tags: black duck, Epargyreus clarus, Euonymus alatus, mallard, opossum, pintail, silver-spotted skipper, St. James Farm, white-crowned sparrow, winged euonymus
by Carl Strang
This blog has been on hiatus while I work on my annual research summary documents, but I have been paying regular visits to St. James Farm Forest Preserve, the site I monitor and where I soon will begin as volunteer steward. Today’s entry shares some photos from recent weeks.
Winged euonymus adds color to the autumn scene, but is an invasive shrub that will need to be removed at some point.
As leaves come off the trees, bird nests are revealed. This oriole nest had a significant content of synthetic fibers, including fishing line from the nearby ponds. The fuzzy white object hanging below the nest is a fishing lure, the hook not quite visible at this angle.
This silver-spotted skipper still was active on November 16.
The opossum lay dead in the center of a trail, also on November 16. Cause of death was not evident.
Late autumn migrants included this white-crowned sparrow youngster.
The most unusual stopover duck was a female pintail on the east pond.
Another duck worth noting was this male. Accompanied by a female mallard, his huge size and her identity suggest that he may be a mallard-black duck hybrid.
June 1, 2016 at 6:00 am (dragonflies and damselflies, insects (other), invertebrates (other), plant-eating insects)
Tags: American lady, bowl and doily spider, common baskettail, dot-tailed whiteface, Epalpus signifer, Epargyreus clarus, Epitheca cynosura, Frontinella communis, green-legged grasshopper, Leucorrhinia intacta, Melanoplus viridipes, silver-spotted skipper, St. James Farm, Vanessa virginiensis
by Carl Strang
As the cold spells have become fewer and weaker, insects and other invertebrates increasingly have decorated the landscape at St. James Farm Forest Preserve. None decorate better than the butterflies.
A few American lady butterflies appeared early in May.
The silver-spotted skipper attests to the presence of black locust trees on the preserve.
Very early in the season I was seeing abundant grasshopper nymphs in the forest. I had a suspicion about them, which was confirmed as they matured.
The green-legged grasshopper is an early season forest species.
Dragonflies increasingly appeared in the second half of May.
The most abundant dragonfly in recent days has been the common baskettail. Though they usually are seen on the wing, this one gave me a rare opportunity for a perched shot.
No baskettail this. It’s another early season species, a female dot-tailed whiteface.
All these insects bring out the parasites and predators.
Epalpus signifer is a tachinid fly, a parasite of caterpillars.
Morning dew highlights the abundant webs of bowl and doily spiders.
June 28, 2009 at 9:29 pm (insects (other))
Tags: Ancyloxypha numitor, Celastrina ladon, Epargyreus clarus, Hobomok skipper, least skipper, Mayslake, Poanes hobomok, Polites themistocles, Semiothisa bisignata, silver-spotted skipper, spring azure, tawny-edged skipper, Zanclognatha cruralis
by Carl Strang
Recently I provided an update on damselflies and dragonflies that have become active at Mayslake Forest Preserve. New butterflies and moths also have been appearing. The large group of butterflies known as skippers can be tricky, but I believe I have these right: Hobomok skipper,
and tawny-edged skipper.
Both are, according to my references, common. I have found Hobomoks in other preserves early in the season. Even more common and distinctive are two more species, the least skipper
and silver-spotted skipper, the latter never far from black locust trees.
The most recent butterfly to show itself has been the spring azure.
Moths also are in evidence. This one, Zanclognatha cruralis, belongs to a curious group whose larvae eat dead leaves.
The following moth I photographed on the slope between May’s Lake and the friary, not far from a large white pine.
This one proved to be a tough ID. There is a large group of moth species which look very much like this one. Furthermore, many of these species show considerable variation among individuals. The yellow head and anterior thorax are unusual among them, I gather, and help to narrow down the possibilities. My tentative identification is Semiothisa bisignata, the caterpillars of which eat pine needles. In the future I may need to collect one or more of them. With some insects, photographs simply aren’t enough.