Friday, August 17, 2012

Scouting the butterflies! Robberfly defeat!

Today I was off work and managed to get the time to look for butterflies and see what was blooming. This time of year many of our local "hot spots" can be fantastic or a disaster. Disaster usually means the highway department has mowed the roadside down to brown nubs. Each year the wild flowers change, some that were great last year are gone or taken over by something else.

I visited the Flat River Impoundment near Durham, it is one of the best wild places we have for butterflies. A good walk there can take 4 hours, today I shortened it and walked 2 hours. In past years Tickseed Sunflowers (Bidens) have been everywhere(seas of yellow), loads of butterflies on them. This year the tickseed is behind and barely blooming. So right now the best wild flower is Narrow-leaved Sneezeweed, it grows in the gravel roadway around a foot tall, today there was atleast a mile of in in the road. Also Brazilian Verbena was everywhere, it can be awesome for butterflies, today it was barely noticed by butterflies, might need some rain. Thistles were on there way out, still they are butterfly magnets!

Anyway cutting to the chase here are some photos I managed to get with my point and shoot camera today. 
The show was stolen right after I got out of my car by these Silvery Checkerspots above and below on narrow-leafed Sneezeweed.  I counted 25 of them in the parking lot, usually you have to walk at least a mile to find just a few. Found at least 100 of them, one on my best days ever for finding this species. The link above sends you to my big butterfly page Butterflies of the Carolinas and Virginias which is now back up after 31 days of being down. Forgot to pay for the hosting, the hosting changed hands and names, left me confused.
Below is a Pearl Crescent on sneezeweed, they look very much like the larger Silvery Checkerspot shown above.
Below is a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on thistle, saw maybe 25 of them today. This is a crappy photo compared to the DSLR photos on my website.
Below is a Painted Lady on thistle, saw 3 of these today. I believe I missed seeing any of these last year. The 4 small eye spot help to tell it from the American Lady which was absent today.
Never expected to find this tiny Juniper Hairstreak today, what a lovely find! And on sneezeweed, sure that is another first for me. Made my day for sure! Their host plant is Eastern Red Cedar. Be sure to see my best photos of this tiny butterfly on my website.
These can be common in your garden, only saw three of them today. This is a Silver-spotted Skipper on thistle.
OK a little excitement in my top bar hive today! I came home and found the bees balling at the hive entrance. Balling is when the bees attack something or protect their queen. I saw the queen just yesterday two bars back.
 Anyway I watched for a few mintutes and saw the tail end of a Giant Robberfly under the pile of bees. Yes sir my tamest bees defended themselves very well, way to go girls! Below is the invader after they kicked him out.

 I think this is a Giant Robberfly, Promachus bastardiiI did a full post on them last year.



17 comments:

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Very cool on the bees getting the robberfly!! I have had a few of them land on me while walking the dogs...ewww.
Gorgeous photos of the butterflies.

Kim and Victoria said...

Great pics of the butterflies, even with your point and shoot.
Good job for the bees!

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

Great captures of the butterflies! Love seeing them on all the native blooms. I have mixed feelings about robber flies since they take out bees but they also pray on Japanese Beetles and other pests. Wouldn't it be nice if they were a little more selective toward the pests!

Kitty said...

How serendipitous. I had never seen (maybe never noticed) a robberfly until yesterday. There was one sitting on the flipper on the flap over the window of the Rosamund hive when I went out to see how they were doing.

Gorgeous pictures, Randy.

Carol said...

Randy, I nearly weep when I see the roadsides mowed this time of year. Good you were able to get out to check on the butterflies. I am amazed at what you are able to do with just a point and shoot. Beautiful! There have been hundreds of sightings of Painted Ladies in Massachusetts. I have only had a few in the gardens but still excited for I usually just capture (photographically speaking) the American Ladies. Impressive how your bees can defend themselves.

Lisa said...

Nice to get a chance to go butterflying, and I hope you have a great excursion on Sunday. It seems like a lot of perennials (native and non-native) flowered early this year, but happily, flowering times have been longer as, at least in the mountains, it's been relatively cool and wet -- and in the upper SC piedmont, too, for that matter.

I imagine Meg's students are quite excited about the caterpillars--fennel's the best, for sure, unless you have giant parsley beds!

seedscatterer said...

Always a treat to see what you saw. Thanks. Nell Jean

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Many thanks!!! You are the king of the IDs!

greggo said...

Great photos with a point and shoot. Been short on butterfly's this year in Kansas until recently. Got some good captures in Wyoming in late June however. I will be showing a post with a blue Lycaeides in bear trap meadow. Maybe you can help me ID this one?

greggo said...

I believe it to be Plebejus melissa, Melissa Blue.

Rohrerbot said...

Really fun post:) Love the bee attack. They did their jobs. Butterflies right now are so active in the Northern Hemisphere. You have some beautiful flutters around your area.

Casa Mariposa said...

I've seen the same butterflies in my garden but wasn't sure of their names. Usually by the time I've grabbed my camera, they're gone. I LOVE that your bees defended their nest. Very cool pix of them with their giant invader.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

That Giant Robberfly looks giant indeed! I'm always impressed the lengths the bees can go to, to defend their hive. Makes our puny yellow jackets look like small fry (although they make up for their size with attitude!). As always, I'm amazed at your butterfly photos. I wish I could get that close to ours here. Next time I need a flat garden so I don't rolling down the hills while chasing butterflies ;)

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