Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Butterflies and a Pair of Racers

It was very windy here today, so most of the butterflies were perched in order to being blown away by the strong gusts. I couldn't find any more elfins today, but some of the other species were very cooperative!

Northern Spring Azures were out in force today, even more so than yesterday! This species is usually very skittish, but this male was clinging to its perch so that it didn't get blown away!

While the azures were numerous, the duskywings were not. I did manage to find this mating pair of Juvenal's Duskywings at the edge of the meadow not far from a single Sleepy Duskywing. When it comes time to lay her eggs, the female will oviposit (lay eggs) on an oak tree. Oaks are the preferred caterpillar host plant for several duskywing species. The Dreamy Duskywing, however, uses a variety of tree and shrub species and the Wild Indigo Duskywing uses wild indigo and crown-vetch.

While I was coming down the path headed back the the house, I spotted two snakes just off the trail. One of these black snakes was curled up and the other was completely stretched out to a length of four feet or more. When I got closer, I noticed that these were two Black Racers enjoying the afternoon sun. When I got too close, the curled-up racer shook its tail against the dry leaves making a sound similar to that of a rattlesnake. This species is similar in appearance to the Black Rat Snake, but the head shape and eye are different. A rat snake has a longer head and the eyes pop out a little giving a "bug-eyed" look compared to the racers.

Just a few weeks ago, I had seen another racer on the property. Unlike the ones from today, this guy was 15 feet up in a tree! This shows another characteristic to separate racers from rat snakes: the mostly black belly; rat snakes have white or speckled undersides.

1 comment:

kirstallcreatures said...

Lovely butterfly photos, but those snakes certainly look like creatures you'd want to give a wide berth to. I was surprised to see one pictured so far up the tree.