Gossamer Tapestry

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

IBCM Part 3

Last week, I was part of the third installment of the Imperiled Butterfly Conservation and Management Workshop. This one was held at Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Miami (the previous two were held at the Todedo Zoo last July, and at the Florida Museum of Natural History in October).

It was fun going back to Fairchild after just a month. I saw more Atala butterflies this time than I did in February, however my February photo is better that what I managed to get this time around. On the other hand, I got a much better shot of the caterpillar this time, and managed to find a pupa to photograph.

Atala larva (Eumaeus atala)

Atala pupa (Eumaeus atala)

There were huge numbers of Needham's skimmers (Libellula needhami) in the gardens.

Needham's skimmers (Libellula needhami)

The focus of this session was originally to have been on propagating plants, and we had a couple of really wonderful hands-on sessions from some of Fairchild's very knowledgeable staff. In response to participant needs and some newly-emerging information, this session also highlighted disease and prevention issues. Last summer, a new paper described unanticipated implications for conservation efforts that can arise out of infection with a very strange bacterial pathogen called Wolbachia, and I was asked to give a presentation on it. I enjoyed that a lot, because it was a very challenging talk to put together, and it was well received.

We had a field trip day on Tuesday that included stops: Bahia Honda and Big Pine Key. I had visited both of these spots a month earlier. It was fun to see them a bit further into the spring season.

Vincent and I on Bahia Honda

The weather was much nicer this time around than it had been in February, however the earlier cold weather had taken a toll. We were looking for two endangered species, the Miami blue and Bartram's hairstreak, and saw neither of them. At Bahia Honda, I did get a photo of Martial's hairstreak, which is an uncommon species. The cassius blue is not uncommon, but I was happy with the quality of my picture.

Martial's Hairstreak (Strymon martialis)

Cassius Blue

At Big Pine Key, the group met with one of the site managers and then spit up for some exploration to look for Bartram's hairstreak. As we were splitting into smaller groups, Jaret suggested that some people tag along with me as I know Big Pine Key (somewhat true) and could help with plant identification (Yikes- so NOT true. I only know about a dozen species from that ecosystem). Still, it wasn't a disaster. We got to have fun and I got to see the imperiled Florida duskywing.

Butterfly Conservationists at Big Pine Key

Florida Duskywing (Erynnis brunnea)

I really enjoyed the conference a lot. At the same time I'm happy for a bit of a pause in my travels. My next trip will not happen until June, when Part 4 of the conference will take place at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Return to Florida

Yeeps, I haven't even finished blogging about my last trip to Florida and I'm back down here again. I'm here for part 3 of the Imperiled Butterfly Conservation and Management workshop.

I started out with the trip by meeting a fellow blogger named Tony. Kathie will find this particularly amusing- yes, this is your brother-in-law. We went for a delightful nature walk at Hugh Taylor Birch Park State Park in Ft. Lauderdale and went out for a couple of drinks together. A charming and delightful man. We wanted to take a photo to post and forgot to do so. Ah, well,

I'm pleased to say that the weather has been far nicer so far than it was a few weeks back. I came down a couple of days early in the hopes of getting in some better entomology than I managed in February. Although it has been better, the bugs are still suffering the aftereffects of a very cold winter. In February, I was at Fackahatchee Strand State Park over near Naples and managed to get photos of a caterpillar of the Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis). It's a very close relative of the Swamp Metalmark, and my photos are the first of the caterpillar to be posted on BugGuide.

Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis) Caterpillar

This time around I wwanted a picture of the adult. I succeeded- after a fashion. I'm not thrilled with the quality.

Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis)

Some of the other butterflies were more photogenic. I especially liked the shot that I got of the Twin-spot Skipper.

Twinspot Skipper (Oligoria maculata)

Dragonflies were also putting in an appearance. There weren't huge numbers, but a few posed for me.

Forktail Damselfly (Ischnura sp.)

Halloween Pennant (Celathemis eponina)

Ther were even a few vertebrates that posed for us. Yeah, cute cute, blah blah blah.

Green Treefrog (Hylas cinerea)

Over by Naples I connected up with other blogging friends- the Thingfishes! We went on an unsuccessful expedition for tiger beetles we had a great seafood dinner. It has been a very enjoyable trip so far.

Blogging friends (Thingfish sp.)

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, March 14, 2010


A week and a half earlier than last year.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Key West 2010

Well, duh.

Our first full day in Key West fell on Valentine's Day. Candy hearts with messages appeared at breakfast, and included one message that appeared to be directed at UrSpo. Dr. Spo and partner Someone appeared attired to celebrate the holiday.

Spo and Someone

Leon, Michael, and I ventured out to Ft. Zachary Taylor for a picnic lunch (Cuban sandwiches) and some time strolling about the old fort. It was one of the few really nice days of the trip- bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60s.

Ft. Zachary Taylor

Ft. Zachary Taylor is noteworthy because it remained in Union hands during the Civil War. The fort played a key role in maintaining the blockade of Gulf cities during the war. Although the fort never saw direct combat, casualties due to disease, especially typhus and yellow fever, were high.

The Infamous 10-holer

Poor sanitation and some of the attendant opportunities for mosquitoes to breed contributed to the disease problem. The above "10-holer" latrine was supposed to benefit from tidal flushing. Unfortunately, tidal flux in Key West is minimal. The result was stench, disease, and death.

Fritz & Me

On Monday evening Will and Fritz arrived. Tuesday they accompanied me, along with a famous author, to tour Ernest Hemingway's Key West residence.

Hemingway House

We toured the house and then the garden. While in the garden, the famous author was lamenting not having seen the spot where Papa Hemingway actually did his writing. Not to worry- the studio was in an outbuilding that was part of the tour.

The Hemingway Studio and Writing Desk

My favorite part was the polydactyl cats.

Don't my extra toes look elegant?

Labels: , , ,