Mississippi Rain and Pinto Beans - 6/10

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Sat Jun 16 03:47:32 EDT 2001

Part 1:

I traveled to New Orleans this past week - landing last Sunday under a
deluge of rain.  The same storm had just sent Houston for the open sea, so I
decided to attempt to drive out from under the storm.  The front had been
moving slowly, so I was pleased to find drier ground by the time I reached
Slidell, LA.  A quick look around proved fruitful, as I began seeing
lepidopteron life - in spite of the completely cloudy skies.  An early treat
was a single Dusky Blue Hairstreak (Calycopis isobeon), seemingly far from
it's South Texan stomping ground.  This was followed by a single Oligoria
maculata (Two-spotted Skipper).  These two were found near water, very close
to Interstate 10.  The clock was ticking, the leps were flying, and I
decided to head for De Soto National Forest in Harrison County, MS., for a
look around.

This part of Mississippi is thick with forest.  While the sun failed to make
a showing, the penetrating radiation made for some hot and muggy collecting.
I soon found a nice dirt road, and stopped to take a long walk.  Lots of
large Papilio made this particularly fun - with individuals of P.
cresphontes, P. troilus, and P. palamedes all being extremely common.  I
also enjoyed Papilio glaucus - with both yellow and dark female forms
present.  The swallowtails could be found gathering minerals on the road -
along with Limenitis arthemis (Red Spotted Purple).  Also stopping in the
road were a good number of Erynnis zarucco (Zarucco Duskywing).  Bopping on
the sides of the road and through the underbrush were many individuals of
Neonympha areolata (Orange-ovaled Satyr).  Phyciodes tharos (Pearl
Crescentspot) was also common.  Unquestionably, the highlight of the day was
a single individual of Satyrium kingi (King's Hairstreak) - a bug that has
had recent discussion on this list.  I had no idea I might find it here, and
no other individuals were seen - so I choose to treat the experience as the
gift that it was.

As the sun began setting, I decided to chat some more with the two camping
vagabonds I had passed on my way into the inner forest.  One of them was
keen enough to figure out what I was doing, having recalled a childhood
friend that had a similar passion - frolicking in his memories from a still
segregated south.  I suppose befriending a couple of strangers with nothing
to lose out in the middle of the Mississippi backwoods is not the smartest
thing I could do, but I decided to go with my instincts and take them up on
their offer of a bowl of pinto beans - hot off the open campfire.  It's
amazing how tasty a pot of grub can be when heart and soul are the primary
ingredients.  I contributed a 12-pack of cheap beer, and the three of us sat
and ate - discussing all manner of things until the rains finally came.

At first it came heavy, but eventually it fell in sheets.  I was thoroughly
saturated when I finally took off for the rental car - but the food and
fellowship was far too pleasant to panic.  I shook hands as we parted
company, me for drier pastures and the roadside motels of Hattiesburg, MS -
and they - well, they retreated to their makeshift shelters - not fully
aware of the magnitude of the coming storm, but no less prepared for worse.

Here's my list:

Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
Papilio glaucus (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail)
Papilio troilus (Spicebush Swallowtail)
Papilio palamedes (Palamedes Swallowtail)
Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail)

Calycopis cecrops (Red-banded Hairstreak)
Satyrium kingi (King's Hairstreak)

Phyciodes tharos (Pearl Crescentspot)
Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral)
Junonia coenia (Buckeye)
Limenitis arthemis (Red Spotted Purple)

Neonympha areolata (Orange-ovaled Satyr)

Erynnis zarucco (Zarucco Duskywing)

Mark Walker
back home after four rough nights off Bourbon Street


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