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Posts tagged “Dandelions

Second Brood of Woolly Bears Hatches

8-18-14  woolly bear 093Typically we start seeing Woolly Bear caterpillars in October, when they are searching for sheltered spots in which to spend the winter as larvae. With only two months between now and then, it came as a surprise when my great nephew and budding naturalist Eli Holland discovered a very young Woolly Bear recently. It turns out that in New England, there are two broods of Isabella Tiger Moths (whose larval stage is the Woolly Bear). The caterpillars that hibernated last winter emerged from hibernation this past spring, pupated, transformed into adult Isabella Tiger Moths, and proceeded to mate and lay eggs. It is these eggs that have recently hatched, and the Woolly Bear caterpillars that are no bigger than the length of your baby fingernail right now will be eating dandelions, grasses, nettle and meadowsweet nonstop for the next two months in order to survive the coming winter.

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Parasitic Flies

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 There is a family of flies, Tachinidae, which consists of different species of parasitic flies, one of which is Epalpus signifier.  If you look at enough dandelions this time of year, you are likely to spot one — their white rump is a distinctive identifying feature.  This fly is technically a parasitoid, and as such, spends most of its life attached to or within a host organism (Noctuid moth caterpillar) , getting nourishment from it.   Unlike a parasite, it eventually kills or consumes its host


Sulphur Butterflies

It’s hard to believe, but even after Irene, several inches of snow and an occasional night that’s below freezing, there are still butterflies and moths to be seen. Yesterday this sulphur butterfly (probably clouded, Colias philodice) was flying from dandelion to dandelion, sucking up nectar with its long, black proboscis.  Clouded sulphur and orange sulphur butterflies, two different species, are similar looking, and on top of that, they even hybridize, so distinguishing between the two is often difficult, at best.  Both species have several broods in a summer; you can see them flying in fields and along roadsides from spring to fall.