Sunday, April 05, 2009

Harvester Day!

Today my friend Roger and I went to explore Piney Mountian Creek in a Duke Forest tract that I'd never been in before. Right away before we even got started walking I noticed several large American Beech trees and said this would be a great place to find a Harvester butterfly! We had left Roger's car downstream along side the road so we could just bushwack our way downstream perhaps 3 miles to his car.

The woods were beautiful with beech trees everywhere in a mixed hardwood forest. At one of the first sand bars I found an Harvester with my binocs. We took photos only to find another. Soon we had found 8 male Harvesters in the wet sand at sand bars. Later on we found a grove of mature beech trees and spied an harvester, then another, we ended up with 5 at this spot. Soon we had found in total 19 Harvesters which is a North Carolina second high count for this species! 25 is the high count record in Granville County back in 2006.

Typical male Harvester on a sandbar. Male imbibe minerals to aid in the reproductive cycle.

Harvester do sometimes perch upside down like this one.

Harvesters are the only butterfly in the US that is carnivorous as the caterpillar feeds on Woolly Aphids and not plant matter like the other butterflies.

The best way to find them is to look in beech forest along streams and rivers. All except one harvester today perched on the twigs of American Beech as you can see in the above two photos. They tend to chase each other around at eye level or higher and will perch sooner or later if you watch them long enough, usually a minute or two.

male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail perched on a sandbar

16 comments:

Heather said...

Hi Randy- you have found the butterfly jackpot around your home. I can't believe the vast range of specimens you find. Great pictures too!
Heather

Randy Emmitt said...

Heather,

I've been chasing butterflies for 11+ years now with a camera. Having a network focused on finding them with a statewide listserve and the Carolina Butterfly Society makes finding them a lot easier.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Randy, can you recommend a really good butterfly id book? I can't really find anything at the bookstore nearby. I have several regular varieties around here, I think one is a tiger swallowtail. I think that's what I saw yesterday.
I love the newest photos today.

Randy Emmitt said...

Catherine,
For out west you have two great books that would work for you. Kenn Kaufman's Butterflies of North America (I have 30 photos in this book) and a bit more focused to your region Jeffery Glassberg's Butterflies Through Biniculars the West.

sweet bay said...

Randy I'll have to look for those near our stream. We have lots of sand bars and Beech Trees.

Great pictures.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Thanks! I wrote both down and I will be looking for them!

Janet said...

Great photos and super info. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of butterflies with us. You really have a wealth of information!

Mildred said...

WHAT AN INTERESTING POST RANDY. WE HAVE WOODS FULL OF BEECH TREES AND A CREEK. I WILL HAVE TO LOOK FOR THE HARVESTERS. SUCH BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS YOU SHARED TODAY. THANKS AND HAVE A GREAT WEEK AND A BLESSED EASTER.

Lanny said...

Your Harvesters are beautiful. The name reminded me of Gene Stratton-Porter's books about a butterfly collector and the one about a wild herb collector called the Harvester. You are so informational.

Tatyana said...

The Harvester'color reminds me of fresh honey...

Meems said...

That's a beautiful butterfly, Randy. You hit the jackpot it sounds like and it was probably a really pretty day in the Forest Tract. So great to get out and about with the camera.
Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

Chandramouli S said...

Wow! Perseverance! I need that badly. These Harvesters would be welcome in my garden. How my hibiscuses would love these! Poor things are being attacked by aphids non-stop!

sweet bay said...

Randy, where is that place near Roanoke? Can you email me directions? sweetbay@embarqmail.com

Just Jenn said...

Your vast knowledge of butterflies amazes me.

WiseAcre said...

OK, now I've got to put a shortcut to your blog on my desktop.

Great photos and info too. I hope you don't mind if I come back with questions instead of praise at times. I love attempting to ID my finds but it would be nice to get a confirmation on those times I have my doubts (usually:)

Sorry I'm getting carried away. It ooks like I finally found a kindred spirit and I'm just a bit excited :)

cindydyer said...

Beautiful butterfly shots, Randy!

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.

Cindy

www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

www.gardenmuse.wordpress.com