Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another Monroe County Butterfly Record

Red-banded Hairstreak by Corey Husic
Red-banded Hairstreak, a photo by Corey Husic on Flickr.

Earlier this summer, I found an Appalachian Azure near my yard in southern Monroe County. This egg-laying individual represented the first record of this species in the county. This past Saturday, while butterflying with Billy Weber near my house, I found another new butterfly for Monroe. As we were walking through the woods, we noticed a small hairstreak in the middle of the shaded path. The little butterfly took off, but eventually landed on a nearby fern. This butterfly turned out to be a Red-banded Hairstreak, which is normally thought of as a southern species. The only other Red-bandeds I have seen were in southern New Jersey. Farther down the path, we saw another one of these gorgeous butterflies. The larvae of this species are unusual because they eat rotting leaves rather than live, green leaves like the caterpillars of most butterflies.

The next two months are usually excellent for butterflying, as there is good diversity among the resident species, and occasional strays will wander in. Common southern wanderers include Little Yellows, Giant Swallowtail, and Fiery Skippers. Occasionally, butterflies such as the Common Ringlet will come down from the north.