Homochitto, MS - 4/21/02

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Wed Apr 24 01:22:43 EDT 2002

I think I goofed on the last report - it should have been 4/20/02.
Isn't Homochitto one of those great names?  The town is in Amite County, and
the National Forest that goes by the same name spans several counties,
including Franklin - which is really where this story is from.  More
precisely, I found a very nice chunk of habitat in the Caston Creek Wildlife
Management Area and enjoyed complete solitude as I ventured far into the
This area is a good two hours north of New Orleans, and by the time I
arrived the skies had clouded up and the conditions were less than optimal.
Nevertheless, as soon as I hit the trail I began to see Hermeuptychia
sosybius (Carolina Satyr) flopping about the leaf litter.  Every so often, I
found one of the flopping Satyrs to be Cyllopsis gemma (Gemmed Satyr) - a
very similar looking flyer but lighter brown in color.  Another Satyr that
was relatively common, but well past prime (every individual was
significantly worn) was Megisto cymela (Little Wood Satyr).  There was also
a Phyciodes present - and with all the ongoing discussion, I'll shy away
from making any positive id.  It's certainly a tharos-looking entity, so
it's probably that one.
A highlight was a good number of Anaea andria (Goatweed Leafwing), which
would fly down from the trees and land down among the grasses.  Both males
and females could be spooked out of the grasses along the paths that I
chose.  I really like this genus.
There were also an abundance of fresh Cloudywings.  The dorsal forewing
white spots are small, and the bug otherwise looks mostly like Thorybes
bathyllus (Northern Cloudywing).  These Cloudywings could be found zipping
from resting spot to resting spot, occasionally prompting a territorial
reaction from a nearby Lerema accius (Clouded Skipper).  Also common were
Polites origenes (Crossline Skipper), which could be readily found during
the morning along the trail - and later in numbers at nectar in a nearby
pasture.  Also nectaring in this field were males and females of Polites
vibex (Whirlabout).  A highlight was a single individual of a spectacular
little brown skipper with extensive white veining underneath.  My best guess
(it wasn't vouchered) is Amblyscirtes aesculapius (Lace-winged Roadside
Skipper) or possibly Hesperia metea (Cobweb Skipper).  It was found perching
on overhanging brush in a deeply wooded section, but relatively close to a
pasture.  Most of the Cobweb Skippers I've encountered have come from
overgrown pastures.
Two other skippers of mention were Epargyreus clarus (Silver Spotted
Skipper) and the relatively common (and fresh) Achalarus lyciades (Hoary
Skipper).  The latter became more common later in the day, and preferred
basking on the dirt roads.
There were few Swallowtails on the wing, but several species were present.
Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail) was the most common, along with
Papilio troilus (Spicebush Swallowtail) and Papilio glaucus (Tiger
Swallowtail).  The only Pierid flying besides Colias eurytheme (Orange
Sulphur) was Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur).  Other Nymphalids present
included the relatively common Vanessa virginiensis (American Painted Lady),
Limenitus arthemis (Red Spotted Purple), and Junonia coenia (Buckeye).  To
my amazement (and disappointment), there were no Lycaenids seen anywhere.
The skies eventually cleared up nicely, and the temperatures were in the low
80's.  The dragonflies were much less frequent, and the leps relatively
Mark Walker.
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