Bill Roston Native Butterfly House Notes
Notes & photos by Kevin Firth, June 17, 2012
Hello Everyone: For those of you whom I have not met, my name is Kevin Firth and this is my third year as a docent. My daughter Lindsay is in her second season helping me out, correcting my errors, and making general mischief. I have only been able to work Wednesday evenings this year, but I have had a chance to meet some of our new docents and look forward to meeting all as the season progresses.
Last season I decided to send out some occasional emails with links to interesting articles concerning Lepidopteran matters, photos from my local lep hunts, and various other tidbits in an effort to foster some additional communication/discussion/education among our docent group. While I have been seriously negligent thus far this year, I finally decided to sit down, update my address book, and get back to it. As always, if any of you would prefer not to receive my emails, just let me know.
So…. First things first… I would like to thank Julia for all the work she has been doing on weekdays. Thanks to her efforts, we finally have the house open every day of the week (and maintenance has been much easier). THANKS JULIA!
(SPECIAL SUMMER HOURS: Visit the Bill Roston Native Butterfly House where there are now special summer hours thanks to Julia, an intern volunteer. In addition to the regular hours of operation you can now visit the Butterfly House, Monday-Friday, 9am to 2pm until July 20th (except for June 27-July 2). This is a great place to bring the kids (of all ages) with a picnic lunch. Springfield Botanical Garden, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave. REGULAR HOURS: The Butterfly House is also open to the public, mid May through September, weekends, 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Plus Monday – Wednesday evenings, 5pm until dusk. Questions call 417.891.1515.)
The work day at the house Saturday went well and we accomplished a lot. Thanks to all (and there were many) who helped out. (If you would like to help with the Butterfly House as a docent or assistant please send a note to Lisa Bakerink email@example.com.)
I found an interesting caterpillar on our willow tree this past Wednesday, so that will be the feature for this edition (see photos below). I thought I had discovered an Underwing larva (moths in the family Erebidae; tribe Catocalini), but after bringing it home at Dr. Barnhart’s urging and getting some pictures, I checked Dave Wagner’s new book (Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America, highly recommended) and discovered that it is actually a Zale lunata, the Lunate Zale (I had the right family, but the tribe is Ophiusini). The yellow intersegmental band in the photo of the larva with its thorax and abdomen arched (described in Wager) is what clinched it. I had also spotted what I think was a Lunate Zale adult in the house about three or four weeks ago (whoever brought that in–thanks). It took me forever to prune the willow this morning as I was more intent on finding more Zale larvae than actually pruning. Alas, I did not find any additional larvae.
Finally, Lindsay found a few Lep books at the library that I found to be interesting and possibly worth the time to check out:
* An obsession with butterflies : our long love affair with a singular insect, by Sharman Apt Russell – A very poetic book about Leps, but with some very interesting natural history, and a very easy read.
* Do butterflies bite? : fascinating answers to questions about butterflies and moths, Hazel Davies, Carol A. Butler – I’m about halfway through this one. I had seen this title in previous searches and dismissed it as a book directed at children based on the title–oops. This book has some very detailed info on Leps and so far is an interesting read.
* A world for butterflies : their lives, behavior and future / Phil Schappert – I have only browsed a few parts of this one thus far. It has an interesting discussion of mimicry–the different types (Batesian vs. Muellerian), the evolutionary development of mimicry, and various “mimicry rings” from around the world, including the black swallowtails and Monarch/Viceroy rings that we discuss in the house so often.
That’s probably enough for now…. All the best, Kevin Firth