Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A quick trip to Texas

We made a quick trip to Austin, Texas, last week to visit family. I managed to get out for some walks near where we were staying just southwest of the city.

Cicadas were everywhere, and calling at peak capacity, making a walk through the treed neighbourhood a noisy experience. I found several pupal skins and one newly emerged adult. These are not the 17-year species, but an annual species (Tibicen sp.) that emerges every year during the "dog days" of summer (hence another name for them, the Dog-day Cicada). You can clearly see the bright green adult and the cast skin in the picture above.

Two good butterflies were the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) and the White-striped Longtail (Chioides albofasciatus).

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Collecting Gypsy Moth larvae

I have been to the south end of Grand Lake recently collecting Gypsy Moth larvae in an oak stand for a Canadian Forest Service study. The critters have increased in numbers a bit this season because of a milder winter. A close look at the older larvae reveals some striking red and blue spots, but the younger ones look more orange (bottom image). The image at top shows caterpillars massed on an oak trunk; the pale mass near the bottom is an egg mass.

The next image shows a larva killed by a naturally occurring fungus, which in a small way helps to limit the population. A close look will reveal many tiny fungal fruiting bodies.

The third image shows a mature larva actively munching away on an oak leaf.

The Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) is in the family LYMANTRIIDAE (Tussock Moths) of the Order LEPIDOPTERA (Moths and Butterflies).