Back to the area around the Clifton Institute for my first NABA Butterfly Count. We visited an extensive pollinator garden on private property (thanks to Shane’s Signs), a gravelled patch of Thoroughfare Road adjacent to a wetland mitigation project (photo), and a private horse farm. In the pollinator garden I made my first acquaintance of one of our hummingbird moth species (Hemaris thysbe) who were going gangbusters—not on our checklist, but still. I found the first of a few Sleepy Oranges (Abaeis nicippe) and Juniper Hairstreaks (Callophrys gryneus) that we tallied, and was finally able to twitch Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius). Stephanie Mason pointed out this critter to me ages ago (“Peck’s have checks”) but that was before I started listing butterflies. But dang, skippers burn me out fast. We saw so many Sachems (Atalopedes campestris) in all their variability that the mental key began, “Is this skipper not a Sachem?”
No lie, it was hot. We started at 08:00 and I began to flag at 11:00. I am finding that a few hours of heat tends to make my feet swell in the waterproof light hikers that I usually wear. I was grateful for the jug of lemonade at the tally rally back at Clifton.
As usual, that’s me in the back, the last one to get on whatever we’re looking at. (Thanks to photographer Marie!) But well equipped.
No luck getting good images of the two common saddlebags species, but I did snap some reasonable images of Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) and what turned out to be Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata). Dang, those pond damsels are tricky. The best spot in our sector for pond damsels was again the pond behind The Farm Brewery at Broad Run. You know, the place with the axe-throwing barn.
Last Sunday was plenty hot, and we pooped out by 15:00 except for leader Larry. His pro tip for finding Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) is to check the parking lot: the critter has a tendency to mistake a car roof for a puddle.
Neonics aren’t just bad for pollinators. As Shauna Stephenson reports, aquatic invertebrates are also adversely affected, which is bad news for fish.
When I’m puzzling out the ID of a hairstreak or swallowtail, I depend on Cech and Tudor’s essential Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide (2005). The book has one significant flaw, however: to look up a species, the index doesn’t indicate the page where the main entry appears. No boldface or italics. The index for Monarch cites 24 different pages.
So, I fixed it, in part: Index to Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide, main entry, by common name.
They’re coming! It’s the summer of glacier ice worms (Mesenchytraeus spp.).
Martin R. Kalfatovic says so long to Brood X with some detailed materials from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
What to do when cicadas crash your outdoor wedding? Embrace the buzz:
And remember: At the very least, cicadas make for a memorable wedding. “It was actually quite fun to lean into the cicada theme,” [Lauren] Migaki said. “My little brother wore a cicada bolo tie; our favors were cicada-shaped chocolates with caramel pop rocks; and I donned a pair of gold cicada earrings for the reception in our backyard.”
“I loved hearing the noise of them in the trees above us,” she added, “feeling like we had hundreds of wedding guests.”
Brood X has peaked, the little red-eyed guys have done what they set out to do, and they are passing away.
“When animals die they have a pretty distinct BAD smell,” wrote Paula Shrewsbury, also a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, in an email. “As part of the decay process there are a number of interactions between enzymes and microbes that result in the ‘smell of death.’ Cicadas are no different than other animals; when they die they smell bad.”
Of course Ed Yong found a different angle on the arrival of Brood X: “Cicadas Have an Existential Problem.” And a clever analogy to illustrate what’s going on.
Home football game, nice weather, and the last weekend before school starts, so the listening wasn’t that great for Team Reston for this year’s Cricket Crawl.
Heard during my 1-minute sample: Common True Katydid (Pterophylla camellifolia) and Lesser Anglewing (Microcentrum retinerve).
Kevin Munroe, with assistance from P.J. Dunn, has launched a new online project, cataloging the 65 dragonfly/damselfly species to be found in Northern Virginia. ID guides, tips on where to look, flight time calendars, field guide recommendations, and more!
A roundup of conservation and natural history links: