More babies and bugs

I am very excited to report the sighting of another duckling! This time it’s a good-sized blue-winged teal on the river with its mom on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. You may recall that we first saw the Mr. and Mrs. on the pond back on April 11, when we still had frost on the grass and snow in the forecast. Isn’t it great to see that they’ve managed to make productive use of their time since then?

In the butterfly category, we have the surprisingly shy pink-edged sulphur (Colias interior) that made me chase it halfway across the soccer field just to get these partially-obscured images. It liked to land down low in the grass, so I had to get pretty close even to see it at all. I read that “the adult female lays eggs on blueberry plants,” so I sure hope it can find some, but doesn’t cause too much damage!

Our last new guy today is this tiny and striking white-spotted sable moth (Anania funebris) posing on some white dame’s rocket blossoms.

Notice how it managed to get its long tongue, coiled up in the image on the left, down inside the blossom in the image on the right. I don’t know why my pictures are so blurry, but the Bug Lady also remarks about how hard these guys are to photograph. Usually when they fly up to a leaf, they immediately tuck up on the underside. I guess that just won’t work on a blossom, so I was lucky this guy was hungry.

When I looked this little guy up, I was surprised to read that it is a moth. Heck, I had already composed the headline “More babies and butterflies”. After all, two of the traits I thought I knew for distinguishing moths from butterflies are nocturnal instead of diurnal, and feathery antennae instead of thin smooth antennae.

It turns out “moths are generally nocturnal, flying at night. However, there are moths that are diurnal.” Furthermore, “a butterfly’s antennae are club-shaped with a long shaft and a bulb at the end,” and our hero doesn’t appear to have bulbs.

Finally, there are deeper traits, such as the “frenulum, which is a wing-coupling device,” and the type of cocoon they spin, about which you can read much more at the Library of Congress, of all places.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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