Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Butterfly Boom at Magee

Red Admiral butterflies were all the talk of the butterfly and bird list-serves two and three weeks ago.
Red-Admiral butterfly
 These little beauties were everywhere.  They were literally "blowing in the wind."  A south wind, or south-west wind had enabled them to emigrate to Ohio in record time.  They had arrived in waves of color and taken up residence everywhere- even at the famous birding trail at Magee.

The understory at Magee is also early this year.  Those warm temps and plentiful degree days pushed our flora into full leaf at a record pace.  It is not just the trees that leafed out, but the vegetation on the ground is well advanced too.

 Watch for these twisted leaves as you botanize and bird this week.  You just may find a surprise inside the leaves of the members of the nettle family.

 I opened up several along the Magee walkway and found small caterpillars feeding inside.  These are the larva stage of the Red Admiral.  Just as the butterflies were prolific a couple of weeks ago, now the caterpillars will be feeding on nettle plants everywhere.

They are about 1/4 inch in size now, but it wont be but a few days and they will double in weight and size. 

Prothonotary Warbler

Just think... they will make wonderful "warbler food" for the last of the spring migrants and the Prothonotary Warblers which annually nest at Magee! No doubt there will be plenty of caterpillars that will make it to adulthood, and I am betting we see another Red Admiral boom in about 4 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous picture of the Warbler. Such lovely birds.