Monday, June 21, 2010


Something wounded my Pin Oak (it doesn't look like one of the sapsucker holes) and it's leaking. But the flies and this Wood-Satyr were taking full advantage of the weeping sap Monday evening. Personally, I think it's a Viola Wood-Satyr because of its rich color and large silver spots, but my Butterflies through Binoculars book says that it's Little Wood Satyrs for anywhere north of Florida. The author does allow that Viola is likely a subspecies of Little... On the other hand, butterflies have wings (as we are fond of saying about the birds around here) and given the amazing migration and seasonal wanderings of other butterfly species, I'm not ruling out the possibility of a southern vagrant.

Unfortunately, at least three individuals of this charming little butterfly were flitting about (the book perfectly describes their flight as "bouncing") but this was the only one to sit still long enough for a photo. (It sat so still it let me touch it in an attempt to get it to open its wings. It declined to cooperate and continued to eat.) I've a shout out to the local butterfly people for their opinion on species--not that it matters to me, but it's good citizen science to report possibly unusual sightings. (We have lots of butterfly people around here; I maintain that it's because the bird people became so good at bird ID that it ceased to be a challenge any more and they needed a new venue for their skills.)

ED. NOTE: For those of you who like to be precise: Little Wood-Satyr. Has to do with the "transverse lines" and "post-median lines" bending or not and which way they bend; the spots are, apparently, highly variable from individual to individual... *lol* And that is why I'm happy just calling it a wood satyr. Many thanks to the Cape May Brit for doing my research for me! (Be sure to visit his blog; the link is to the right.) Um, anybody wanna ID the fly...?

Remember my mentioning that I know for a fact that ticks hang out on the end of grass stems waiting for lunch to walk by? Photographic proof, thank you very much... I stopped counting after finding about a half dozen ticks* on just the grass stems at the end of my front walkway (that fiber on the seed head is probably cat hair that came off my clothes), although I admit that even I was surprised to find two (one deer, one lone star) sharing a seed tip.

Wish I had macro video, because you really need to see the madly waving legs, as the tick took notice of my nearness, to fully appreciate the situation. Then again, maybe I'm the only one to find it incredibly funny and the only person who would sit there giggling madly while teasing the ticks instead of having a major case of the heebie-jeebies like pretty much any normal person would have done.** (I gave up on tick heebie-jeebies the first time I had a group of kids in the field and couldn't have a fit of the heebie-jeebies over a tick on one of them.)

Just a really cool bit of lichen on the oak, catching the light just-so, that I noticed while I was taking Wood-Satyr photos.

* I would like to speak to the management about the long, cold, snowy winter not making so much as a dent in the parasite population...

** Yes, the ticks around here carry Lyme Disease; given the density of the tick/deer/mouse populations, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it turned out that we have a very high incident rate of it compared to other places. It ain't pretty; many people I know have had it. Knowing what it can do to a body should give anyone a good solid case of the heebie-jeebies. But I choose to live where I do and to maintain a place for wildlife, so although I keep an eye out for symptoms, I don't freak out over ticks. (Or fleas, or mosquitos, or black widows, or whatever other little "nasties" we have around here. No rattlesnakes or copperheads or water mocassins down here. Yet.) If the coyotes were to be a bit more visible, however, then I could probably work myself up into a good tizzy... (Given the first-hand photos I've seen and reports I've heard, our coyotes aren't as small as the western race and they aren't as shy as some folk would like to make them out to be.)