Gossamer Tapestry

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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Regal Afternoon

Land of Regal Fritillaries

There is nothing like spending a beautiful early autumn day collecting Regal Fritillaries for egg laying. Vincent, Robin, and I went out on Thursday, and had the opportunity to spend a picture-perfect day along the Kankakee River near the Illinois/Indiana border. We were a bit late this year. We managed to collect six females. Every fritillary that we saw was a female, which is an indication that we are getting pretty far along in the season here. I did not photograph any of the Regals that we saw. There weren't many and we really needed to focus our efforts on getting the moms collected for egg laying.

Little Yellow (Eurema lisa)

We got to see lots of species of butterflies. I was able to continue my summer project of getting digital images of local butterfly species. I was especially happy to be able to get a shot of the Little Yellow. This species has had a population explosion in northern Illinois this year. I've been trying unsuccessfully all summer to get a decent image of it.

Great Tiger Beetle Habitat

You can't see an image like this one without thinking about tiger beetles (well, at least I can't). I saw four species on Thursday: Punctured, Bronze, Festive, and Big Sand tiger beetles.

Big Sand Tiger Beetle (Cicindela formosa)

Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris lecontei)

I was seeing Festive Tiger Beetles last week in Michigan. Ted aptly noticed that the one in my photo looked very green. This was true of many of the individuals that I saw up there. The one above is the more typical red color of this subspecies. Others in the Indiana population are much more blackish, including the one below.

Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris lecontei)

Meanwhile back in the lab, we have set the six Regal Fritillary moms up for egg laying. Each female is placed in a white paper bag with strips of paper towel, a sprig of violet leaf (the caterpillar food) and a moist piece of paper towel. The females generally lay eggs all over the edges of the paper towel strips.

Paper Towel Strips, Violet Leaf, and Moist Paper Towel

Each Bag Contains a Female Regal Fritillary for Egg Laying

We have yet to get any eggs out of these girls (not unusual, it generally takes a few days for them to start). Still, we have no mortality yet and all six females are feeding well. We are hoping to put some of what we learned this past year into practice with the result of greater survival of the larvae over the winter.

A Regal Fritillary Mom Feeding in the Lab

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At 14:04, Blogger Mike Fitts said...

Hi Doug, Do you know exactly where the Regals might be restored. I know that here in Ohio they haven't been seen since 1988. Just curious...

At 17:47, Anonymous Davida said...

Hope you have good success with the females. Dale and I were lucky to see some Regal Fritillaries at a Nature Conservancy site (a prairie "pothole")in Minnesota when we were visiting his hometown in the west-central part of the state for a weekend in late July.

At 23:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't fall great! :)

At 23:46, Blogger Ur-spo said...

Lovely photographs as always.

At 20:08, Blogger Unknown said...

That is a very interesting technique. Does it work with other species?

At 11:36, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Hi Phillip,
Welcome to the Tapestry. So glad you found me here and on Facebook. This technique is one of two that we use to induce oviposition in our lab. The other is here. We use the other cages for almost all of out other species (including C. mutica) and ended up moving the regals into that style of cage this year after the paper bags didn't work well. At last count we had 913 regal larvae ready to be put into hibernation chambers.

At 07:24, Blogger Unknown said...

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