Spring Dragonflies

A genuine, sometimes tentative, sign of spring in the Cedarburg Bog is the reappearance of dragonflies, but the first sightings may not be of local individuals. Common Green Darners migrate south in fall and repopulate the north country each spring. The Green Darners that deliver the spring lay eggs that hatch into naiads that take the whole summer to mature. These offspring will make the trip south in fall. Chalk-fronted Corporals are northern dragonflies that emerge in early May.

Cabbage Whites and Sulphurs (Family Pieridae)

Cabbage Whites/Cabbage butterflies are among the first butterflies to appear that have actually emerged from a chrysalis in the current year, and they are followed soon afterward by the closely-related Sulphurs. These medium-sized (2” wingspan) white or yellow butterflies may be monochromatic or they may add black wing tips and some spots. Adults are strong fliers that nectar at a variety of flowers. They are most active during mid-day in open/cleared/weedy/cultivated/fields/meadows/gardens/road edges in cities and suburbs and rural areas

Buck Moth (Family Saturniidae)

Buck moths can be found in the Cedarburg Bog in October. Like many of their larger silk moth relatives, the adults do not feed. When they are startled, they are as likely to fold their wings and drop into the vegetation below as they are to fly away. Female buck moths lay a cuff of eggs on the twig of a larval food plant in fall, and the eggs hatch in spring. During the first half of their caterpillar-hood, the shiny, black larvae are gregarious and are picky eaters. Caterpillars pupate in early summer and the adults emerge in fall.

Painted Lady (Family Nymphalidae)

The Painted Lady Butrterfly can be seen in temperate areas on five continents and may have the biggest range of any butterfly. Not only does it live in a lot of places, it migrates to even more. Look for PLs in open, sunny areas—fields, road edges, gardens, dunes. There the adults sip nectar, especially from thistle and clover flowers, and males defend their territories from perches. PLs fly north in mid-spring and there are probably two broods per summer here. Eggs are laid on caterpillar food plants like hollyhock, nettle, lupine, plus thistle and many other plants in the aster family

Beautiful Wood Nymph and Hog Sphinx Moths

Moths (and butterflies too) are in the Order Lepidoptera. A Lepidopteran’s color is in the scales that cover its wings, legs and bodies, and these scales brush off easily when the insects are handled. Of the 12,000+ species of Lepidoptera in North America north of Mexico, only about 700 are butterflies. This episode features two very different moths, the Beautiful Wood Nymph and the Virginia Creeper Sphinx, that share the same food plant, a vine in the grape family called Virginia Creeper.

Red-spotted Purple (Family Nymphalidae)

Red-spotted Purples (RSP) are found in semi-sunny situations like stream and forest edges, woodland paths, and forest openings. In those habitats, adult RSPs feed on sap, rotting fruit, animal dung, and carrion, but they rarely visit flowers. They are seen from around the start of June through the middle of August. Males are very territorial, and they sit sentinel on vegetation, awaiting the appearance of females.

Woolly Bear (Family Arctiidae)

Tiger moths are in the Family Arctiidae, a diverse group with worldwide distribution and 250 species in North America. Arctiid moths are unusual in that they have an organ on their thorax that vibrates to produce ultrasonic sound. They “vocalize” to attract mates and to defend against predators. Many of their caterpillars are fuzzy, earning a group name of woolly bears or woolly worms.

Clearwing Moth (Family Sphingidae)

This “Hummingbird Moths” in the genus Hemaris; their genus name may come from the Greek hemara meaning a day in reference to their day-time habits. They are also called Clear-winged Moths, a common name they share with yet another very spiffy but unrelated group of moths. Their range extends from the Pacific Northwest, east and south through most of the U.S. Adults hover in front of the flowers of fields, gardens and edges to sip their nectar.

Milkweed Critters Revisited

This week’s BOTW is another of those retreads from the olden days when BOTW was brand new. If you are a Charter BugFan, you’ll note that exciting new species, pictures and information have been added.

Viceroy Butterfly (Family Nymphalidae)

Viceroy Butterflies are famous for being mimics of Monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed foliage, and that makes them both bitter and toxic. After their first experience with Monarchs, birds generally leave them—and, by association, Viceroys—alone. There are at least two generations of Viceroys per summer; the early broods live out their life cycles in a few months, but the larvae of the final brood of summer will overwinter as tiny caterpillars, wrapped in leaves of one of their food plants; willow is favored, but they’ll also eat poplar, aspen and some apple/plum/cherry leaves.