Florida Week 36

Urban butterflying in coastal Florida can be quite productive - in fact several target species were waiting for me in the streets of Miami.  At the Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Statira sulphurs roamed flower beds with Cloudless sulphurs, Dina yellows, and Zebra longwings.  Adult Atala hairstreaks were not flying, but larvae (photo below) and pupae were abundant in the hostplant Coontie beds in these same gardens.  In nearby Homestead, several Pink-spot sulphurs nectared on firebush in a city park, just minutes before a torrential downpour drowned out the rest of my day.  

Enroute to the Everglades, a Bartram’s Scrub-hairstreak landed briefly for a hurried photo before voracious mosquitoes chased me into my car at Navy Wells Preserve.  Mosquitoes and heat shortened my walks on Everglades trails, where I missed the Florida leafwing yet again at Long Pine Key.  (Thanks Mark and Holly Salvato for precise directions to several of the above species!)

The Kissimmee Prairie Preserve in central Florida is known for its fall banquet of skippers - in my case up to nine new species were possible.  But trouble loomed as I entered the park.  Some flowers were bloomimg, but roadside ditches and trails were filled with water.  In the office I learned that recent heavy rains had flooded many trails and fields, so I was going to get wet.  Knee-deep in water, I watched from a distance as a few orange Palmetto skippers graced blue-spiked flowerheads with an occasional Berry’s skipper.  On dry ground, a single dark, diminutive Neamathla skipper flew low in the grass in an open field.  But I could find no other new species . .  am I too early?  Are conditions too wet?  I may return in October.

You’re right, they’re not butterflies!  While searching for Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak at Navy Wells, two moths (below) sharing a red-and-white, black-and-blue theme simply screamed to be photographed.  (Addendum: blog-followers Deb and Bill Marsh of Ohio have responded with a name (Faithful Beauty) for the first pictured moth below; also, thanks to Chuck Sexton and John Kern for ID of the 2nd moth, Polka Dot Wasp Moth, Syntomedia epilais).

New Species:  7        Total trip species:  475           Species Photographed:  462


Atala hairstreak larvae, Fairchild Tropical gardens, Miami, FL


Pink-spot sulphur, Modello wayside park, Homestead, FL


Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak, Navy Wells Preserve, Florida City, FL


Faithful Beauty, Navy Wells Preserve, Florida City, FL


Polka Dot Wasp Moth, Syntomedia epilais, Navy Wells Preserve, Florida City, FL

© Chris Tenney 2014