Tag Archives: white checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens)

For LD and nathalie with an h

nathalie with an h suffers from an allergy to wasp stings that rivals my own anaphylactic reaction.  You can therefore understand why she has been rather disapproving of my affinity for wasps and the resulting mania with which I’ve posted their photos recently[1].  She certainly has every right to be weary of them (and the spider I need to go rescue from her home before she does something untoward), so I gleefully enjoyed her ribbing me at Starbucks each morning about her not wanting to see more wasp photos.

LD dislikes insects in general.  Her own words do better justice to this phobia than any I could write.  In an e-mail to me about a horde of critters around their front porch[2], she said this: “I’m kind of a nut about bugs[3] and ones that fly REALLY freak me out.”  While some might think her a bit hysterical, she shares this manic fear with a majority of people.  Her feelings on the subject actually are quite normal in the scheme of human responses to insects.

Upon consideration of these two people and their collective view of insects, I felt behooved to share more of my fanaticism in this regard, only this time I want to post creatures I’m sure both of them would enjoy.  So, ladies, this is for you!

A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) (20080412_03322)

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

A fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea) (20080314_02566)

Fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea)

A red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) (20080420_04206)

Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

A common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) (20080420_04300)

Common buckeye (Junonia coenia)

A white checkered-skipper butterfly (Pyrgus albescens) (20080601_05981)

White checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens)

An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) (20080601_06173)

Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

A silver-spotted skipper butterfly (Epargyreus clarus) (20080701_08707)

Silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

I hope both of you found a wee bit of respite in knowing this marvelous group of creatures offers you some of the most profound beauty and gentility that can be found on our planet.

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[1] Offering posts involving wasps happens to be something I’ve not yet completed this year, especially of my local cicada killers.  Be warned.

[2] I identified the insect invasion xocobra and LD have near their front door as being the result of eastern boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata).  My dear friends have another month or two before they need to take action on that problem.

[3] By “bugs,” LD actually means insects and not just true bugs[4], a subset of the class Insecta.

[4] True bugs constitute a type of insect in the order Hemiptera.  All true bugs have mouthparts capable of piercing tissues and sucking out fluids.  In addition, usually their forewings have hardened bases, their antennae are five-segmented, and their leg tarsi are three-segmented or shorter.

Insects of June

A brown-legged grass carrier (Isodontia auripes) scampering about in the dirt (20080601_05947)

I really wish that photo had turned out better than it did, for the brown-legged grass carrier (Isodontia auripes) is indeed a beautiful wasp.  Dark and iridescent, this indigo flyer is recognizable as the only member of its genus with the telltale brown legs.

It stood next to my foot when I snapped that picture, but it didn’t stay for long.  We regrettably found ourselves beneath a tree on a partly cloudy day, so I captured the image during the one opportunity I had to see it almost at rest.

A white checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens) slurping nectar from a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flower (20080601_05980)

This white checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens) spent a great deal of time flitting from flower to flower in search of nectar.  In this case, upon a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), the butterfly paused only momentarily for me to snap a photo, then off it went into the sky in search of more breakfast.

An elm sawfly larva (Cimbex americana) munching away on a leaf (20080601_05986)

The larvae of the elm sawfly (Cimbex americana), like all sawflies, looks much like the caterpillar of a moth or butterfly, but the adult is nothing short of a wasp’s cousin.  Despite visual similarities though, sawflies use their “stingers” as ovipositors rather than as weapons.  Still, given the size of this child, I’d hate to see the mother who gave birth to it.  She must be a formidable creature indeed.

A group of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) gathering at the edge of a mud puddle (20080601_06170)

In a photo, that to me is death on six legs.  Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) attack en masse.  The first sting releases a pheromone that causes the rest of them to swarm and assault anything that moves (movement spurs them to sting).

I found this small group at the end of a trail of ants winding its way through the grass.  They huddled together near the edge of a mud puddle, doing what I can’t say.  And I didn’t get close enough to look.  One fire ant sting would be bad enough given my heightened allergy to such things, but the very nature of these beasts ensures that it wouldn’t stop at just one.

A seven-spotted ladybird beetle (a.k.a. ladybug; Coccinella septempunctata) climbing through grass covered by cottonwood debris (20080601_06218)

Finally, this seven-spotted ladybird beetle (a.k.a. ladybug; Coccinella septempunctata) found itself trying to navigate a sea of cottonwood debris that covered the ground for some distance.  As it tried to hunt, it grew increasingly covered with the tree’s fibrous droppings.  I hadn’t the heart to tell it, at least relative to its size, that miles and miles of this summer snow surrounded it on all sides.  Only by taking to wing could it hope to escape.

[all photos taken June 1 at White Rock Lake]