The Last Days of Winter - Part 2

Mark Walker MWalker at
Fri Mar 22 11:12:23 EST 2002

Speaking of Monarchs, I enjoyed seeing a number of them this past week in
Florida.  Not common, but very present.  On my drive from Orlando south to
Miami, I enjoyed a gradual but significant shift from dryness to wetness.
By Vero Beach, the roadsides were bright green and nectar sources were more
plentiful.  Still a little disappointing in terms of the numbers of leps
seen, but as I drove around the sparse pockets of habitat in and around
Miami, I was able to see pretty much all of the species I expected at this
time of the year.  One lone specimen of Marpesia petreus (Ruddy Daggerwing)
was spotted in the hammocks along the shores of Lake Okeechobee, my only
Battus polydamus (Polydamus Swallowtail) was spotted outside of Butterfly
World near Ft. Lauderdale (not an escapee), and I saw precious few
hairstreaks - one Electrostrymon angelia (don't know it's common name) near
Homestead, and one Strymon (columella) istapa in some pine habitat near
Coral Gables.  I saw Eurema dina (Dina Yellow) flying across the road near
Bauer Hammock, Dryas julia (Julia) could be found fluttering about lantana,
and Pheobis agarithe (Large Orange Sulphur) was common in the southern
counties.  Skippers were a common site in every location, including Asbolis
capucinus (Monk), Euphyes pilatka (Palatka Skipper), Panoquina ocola (Ocola
Skipper), Oligoria maculata (Twin-spotted Skipper), Polites themistocles
(Tawny Edged Skipper), and Urbanus dorantes (Dorantes Longtail), just to
name a few.
Sadly, I did not make it south of Homestead - so I was not able to add any
value to the ongoing search for Hemiargus thomasi (Miami Blue) in those
parts of the world.  I can say with confidence that I neither found the bug
nor it's foodplant in any of the places I visited.  Of course, its foodplant
could in fact take over the whole state of Florida if given the chance, so I
don't quite see why the bug can't reestablish itself with great success.
It's not like Balloon Vine will only grow in the hammocks.  I wonder how
many of the people who now think they have another endangered butterfly know
that the thing feeds on a weedy vine?
I enjoyed my first ever Coral Snake - which I spooked as I was getting a
closer look at a bug on a huge lantana bush.  I was looking through a
disturbed habitat where people have enjoyed leaving lots of their old,
discarded stuff (nice of them), and the Coral Snake was actually lying
exposed near an old tire.  When I was about five feet away, it moved to find
shelter - and I almost reached down to pick it up.  This is one gorgeous
snake, for all of you reptile lovers out there, and its banded pattern was
one I memorized well as a Boy Scout.  Of course, in California I never had
the pleasure of stumbling into one.  "They are rarely seen, and are very
shy", I was assured - since the snake is known among the BSA as possessing
the deadliest venom of all the North American snakes (I've heard that
released Cobra thrive in the Everglades, but I haven't had the pleasure of
meeting one of these as of yet).  This little guy (I didn't actually sex it)
was about four feet long and absolutely stunning.  My pal Dave, who happens
also to work at Butterfly World, told me that Coral Snakes can't get their
little mouths around much of your skin - save maybe the webbing between the
thumb and the index finger.  I, on the other hand, was in no mood to put
this theory to the test.  With its red, yellow, and black banded colors,
this little snake had nothing to worry about from me.
South Florida was hot and as green as I've seen it in several years.  One
spot in Collier County where I've been led to find Calephelis virginiensis
(Little Metalmark) and Neonympha areolata (Orange Ovaled Satyr) actually had
standing water for the first time in three years.  Both bugs were present.
I've been in Florida two other times during March, and I've not done
exceedingly well on any of those trips.  Still, it's hard not to enjoy even
the flitting about of the common Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
when much of the rest of the country is anticipating more snow.  Winter is a
grand time to come to Florida (and I'm hardly the first person to figure
that out), and if leps are your thing (and they're most certainly my
"Thaayng"), you can hardly beat the destination.  A species list with county
will follow.
Mark Walker
Still freezing in Colorado - but the sun is a shining this morning.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Leps-l mailing list