A friend recently mentioned to me that I hadn't talked about birds on this blog since March (!), and I was surprised to realize that he was right. Unfortunately, that drought will continue for now, since although I got back from 12 days birding in
SE Arizona two weeks
ago, I haven't had time to put together a post. Don't worry though, I will
write it. Eventually.
For now, though, I'll share a few photos of what I would consider to be a very good contender for the title of "Coolest Butterfly in
the Harvester, Feniseca tarquinius. What makes it so cool?
A lot of things. For starters, it's scarce and hard to see, it's tiny, bright
orange and strikingly patterned, and, most interestingly, it is the only
carnivorous butterfly in North America. The
caterpillars eat wooly aphids, which are found on alders, which are found on
wooded streamsides. So to find it, you have to be in a spot with Alders and
aphids, and get lucky. This summer I’ve been doing a research project at the
Bronx Zoo, a spot with alders, aphids, and, allegedly, a few scattered colonies
of Harvesters. So when I spotted a fast, erratic-flying orange butterfly back
in July, I followed it, hoping that it would land to confirm whether it was
indeed a harvester, or something more common like an American copper or
skipper. It alighted on the path right in front of me, and was very clearly a
harvester! I took some record shots, then walked closer. And closer, and
closer. Apparently they are pretty tame, because I got to within 2 inches of it
without it moving, for some close-up photos.
Then this week I was again surprised to stumble across two more harvesters at different spots in the zoo, both of which were almost as tame as the first. Such an awesome butterfly!
Also, as a preview of my upcoming
post, here is a
photo of a bird: Arizona