Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Last Week of Summer

We have had glorious (if a bit cooler than normal) weather for the last week of summer. I've managed to be outdoors a lot- mostly for butterfly releases. Sunday and Monday of last week, we released silver-bordered- fritillary adults and Baltimore Checkerspot larvae. Both events tool place under sunny skies with puffy clouds. That was the meteorological leitmotif for most of the week.

The Chicago Academy of Sciences Biology Department at Paintbrush Prairie

On Wednesday, my entire department visited the Indian Boundary Prairies. The purpose was threefold: to scope out possible release sites for Silver-bordered Fritillaries in a couple of weeks, to check on the Regal Fritillaries that we released as caterpillars a year ago, and to introduce some of the newer members of the department to a fine, high-quality prairie. Our regals have taken! We saw three females. It's so exciting that we are succeeding in establishing a new population of this state-threatened species.

Sand Prairie near the mighty Kankakee River

We want to continue this project, so on Thursday we headed don to Kankakee River country to get more Regal Fritillary females for captive rearing. We succeeded- egg production in the lab has commenced. I also got pictures of the Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris lecontei), a species that I have previously collected but have never photographed.

Two images of Festive Tiger Beetles

Saturday was a Fen workday. Seed collecting was the order of the day. Things began quite foggy and drippy. Eventually the sun came out and we were treated to a fine display of autumn wildflowers.

Foggy Fen- with Argiope spiderweb

Stiff Gentian (Gentianella quinquefolia)

Small Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis procera)

The ladies tresses orchids are putting on quite a show this year. I's not unusual to be able to see dozens as you wander the site. This year it's possible to see hundreds of them.

Nodding Ladies Tresses (Spiranthes cernua)

Labor Day weekend was rounded out with a Sunday afternoon barbecue with friends, and another butterfly release today. Robin's nephew Alex helped.

Alex releases Silver-bordered Fritillaries

It's hard to see summer end, but at least I got to spend much of the last week outside at beautiful locations in near-perfect weather doing butterfly conservation work. Since a week ago yesterday, we have released over 1000 butterflies- with many more to come.

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At 08:52, Blogger Kirk said...

Congratulations on the releases! Our wet summer has really hit the local butterflies hard, a lot were missed altogether. AG saw some I was trying to find only 20 miles away and here they were not.
Keep up the good work!

At 16:31, Blogger Chilmarkgirl said...

I love the Gentians!

At 18:18, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, those butterflies seem so fragile to release! How many of those 1000 will survive! I spent the weekend inside mostly for various reasons and I so feel the need to get out!

At 22:22, Blogger Ur-spo said...

any statistical guesses what happens to 1000 butterflies - viz. do only a few survive/mate ?

At 07:42, Anonymous Sylvia said...

None of the women are wearing hats. Did they take them off for the picture? I am surprised that anyone would be hatless when planning to spend the day out of doors. I grew up in Tucson and have battled skin cancer my entire life.

At 15:17, Anonymous Mark H said...

SPO asks a great question I've wondered about before...... and yes, fantastic pictures. YOU, Doug, have had SUCH a productive busy summer. ALWAYS nice to keep up with your busy life.

At 20:49, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Nice gentians. I'm fond of the mighty Kankakee and her environs :)

At 06:25, Blogger Gallicissa said...

Enjoyed this post, Doug. Festive Tiger Beetles look smart. That foggy fen pic look similar to the butterfly patch in my yard


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