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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hurricane Manuel finally gone

After 3 days of rain, and no internet last night, it finally moved through. Any other time I would consider it perfect weather, but what with hosting Brian, who desperately wanted to see butterfly activity, it got old quickly. We had a couple hours yesterday afternoon where it stopped drizzling and butterflies came out.

I'm so depressed that the stucco tank is leaking way worse than the last time I filled it, which was terrible enough. I have to get it sealed. No other options. But it has to wait until it's empty, so can't happen in time to help me make it until next summer's rainy season. Hopefully, we'll get some more rain this year to help me make it through.

Tropical Leafwing butterflies apparently don't open their wings when perched so Brian caught me one to photograph the top, then he promptly released it. Here's the quick photo I took of it.


And here it is perched normally. Guess that's why it's called a leafwing. It does look a little like a leaf.

I don't know how you readers feel about collecting butterflies, but I'm OK with him taking a few. They only live 2 weeks anyway, and the place is packed with all kinds of insects for the birds. The birds don't care which species of butterfly they feast on, I'm sure. This photo was taken by Theresa Bayoud and is posted here with her permission.


With all the good rain this year there aren't many birds at the oasis. They disperse when food is abundant everywhere. Not many hummers either. Unfortunately, every time I drive to Alpine my vehicle kills butterflies. Here's something interesting I came across while researching collecting, if any of you are concerned.

Why are insect populations resilient to collecting?
Insects are very different from birds and other vertebrates in that they have short generation spans, they have a phenomenal capacity for reproduction, and their populations regularly number in the billions. Insects are so abundant that their numbers simply cannot be considered in the same terms as those of vertebrates. Think of the thousands of insects that a single songbird eats during its lifetime; while each species is important in the ecosystem, a given individual of each species do not have the same ecological importance. The vast majority of insect species are so abundant and prolific that an unexpected loss of hundreds, or even thousands of individuals from a relatively small area in a year results in no detectable decrease in numbers the following year. A mark-recapture study in Europe estimated that it would take several collectors three weeks of intensive collecting to extirpate a tiny, isolated population.

Brian is like a walking butterfly encyclopedia and I learn so much that is valuable to butterfly conservation. He's more interested in collecting caterpillars and growing his own butterflies. He collected an old lethargic female Ornythion Swallowtail that he nursed back to health in hopes that it'll lay a couple of eggs for him to raise into a butterfly. He says she was near death but is now lively and hopefully has a fertile egg or two.  Here is Brian looking for caterpillars in the rain.



He visited once before over three years ago. No other lepidopterists have visited, so everything I know about butterflies I learned from him.

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