Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Woodlake Butterflies

The next morning I decided to check out Woodlake Nature Center to see what wildlife I could photograph. I found some more early morning butterflies to shoot.
This least skipper was unusually cooperative which is good because I was photographing it with a 400mm lens. This means that I had to be about 4 to 5 feet away and had to use manual focus.
In this picture it is easy to see the proboscis inserted into the flower which the butterfly uses like a straw to drink nectar.
I also found a mourning cloak butterfly. Mourning cloaks have the longest life span of any butterfly in North America.
The mourning cloak is one of only a hand full of butterflies that overwinters in its adult butterfly form. When winter comes the mourning cloak will find a sheltered spot, somewhere like a crevice of a tree or building, where it will spend most of the winter in a state of suspended animation to conserve energy. To prevent their bodies from freezing the produce chemicals, such as sorbitol, which act as a natural antifreeze. When the weather begins to warm up the mourning cloaks come to life, as early as March some years in my area of the world. Shortly after, dependent on the weather, they will mate, lay eggs and then their life cycle will be complete after 10 to 11 months of life.


Anonymous said...

Hi, nice to see those butterflies;
keep 'em coming! Regarding your
Nessus Sphinx (beautiful photo by
the way), the USGS site you referred to is very behind in its
records. Conferring with my brother Ron, I learned there are records for 23 MN counties, two
records for Dakota Co. but none
for Goodhue. According to a new
book on sphingids by Jim Tuttle,
there are records for this moth
as far west as Colorado. By the
way, this moth is now called
Amphion floridensis (formerly
A. nessus).
Hap in New Hope

Leedra said...

The photo of the Mourning Cloak butterfly is beautiful.

Shelley said...

I like the mourning cloak and glad to hear of its "longer" life span!

Ecobirder said...

Thanks Hap, looks like I am already behind the times. Is there a site that your brother uses to find more up to date records? I spotted a giant swallowtail at Carpenter Nature Center this weekend and checked that site and they listed no sitings of this species in Dakota County, but now I do not trust their data any more.

Thanks Leedra.

Thanks Shelley, they have a longer life span but how fun can it be spending a big chunk of your life in suspended animation

NW Nature Nut said...

Such beauties!