State of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) feed on a variety of flowers but lay their eggs only on plants in the milkweed family. The bright, aposematic (warning) colors of both the butterfly and its caterpillar alert potential predators to back off (poisonous milkweed sap renders the caterpillar toxic, and it carries its toxicity into adulthood).

Red Admiral Butterfly (Family Nymphalidae)

Red Admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) belong to the largest butterfly family, the Nymphalidae or Brush-footed butterflies. There are two broods of RAs per summer in most of the north, and there are two “forms”—a slightly smaller and less flashy winter form and a larger, more intensely-colored summer form.

Silvery Checkerspot (Family Nymphalidae)

Silvery Checkerspots are in the brushfoot family Nymphalidae, which is the biggest butterfly family with about 6,000 species (209 in North America. As the common name Streamside Checkerspot suggests, this species likes damp meadows, marshes, roadsides, open woods and stream edges, but it also likes areas of disturbed, poor, or sandy soil.

The Swallowtail That Got Away (Family Papilionidae)

Wisconsin has two common species of dark swallowtails—the Black Swallowtail and the dark morph female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail—and we host two dark species that are uncommon strays, the Pipevine and the Spicebush Swallowtail. The latter two are drifters whose caterpillar food plants are not native to Wisconsin. The natural habitats for this lovely wanderer include fields, parks, gardens, dappled woods, and edges from Central America through the southern U.S.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

It’s time again for the Annual “Twelve Bugs of Christmas” event (and, coincidentally, episode #350 in the series, by the BugLady’s numbering). Here are a (Baker’s) dozen insects that will not be getting (or who have already had) their own BOTWs. Feel free to hum along, and have a lovely Holiday.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Family Papilionidae)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have two broods/generations each summer here. The first brood, which is airborne in May and June, is small in number, comprised of butterflies who survived the winter and early spring as a pupae in chrysalises.

Harvester Butterfly (Family Lycaenidae)

Harvester Butterflies don’t stray far from the aphids that support their young because the adult feeds, not on flowers – its proboscis is too short to plumb the blossoms—but on the honeydew that collects on surfaces where aphids feed. their caterpillars eat meat, but not just any meat. Harvester caterpillars require wooly aphids, and Wooly Alder Aphids are a common host.

Fiery and Common Checkered Skippers (Family Hesperiidae)

Skipper butterflies are small and hairy and quick. They are brown, brown and orange, or orange and brown, and they look pretty much alike to the BugLady. Skippers are summer strays to Wisconsin, the Fiery Skipper is rated as uncommon and the Common Checkered Skipper as rare. Their ranges lie in the southern half of the U.S. and along the Gulf Coast, but some individuals of each species vacation “Up North” each summer, even reaching Canada.

A Duskywing and a Cloudywing (Family Hesperiidae)

Duskywing and a Cloudywing Butterflies are sun-loving, chunky, hairy, small-sized, large-headed, often brown/brown-and-orange butterflies that are sometimes mistaken for moths. Like other butterflies, their antennae have club-shaped tips, but in most skippers the clubs have a tiny hook on the end.