Eumaeus atala butterfly, at long last 2

<em>Eumaeus atala</em> butterfly, at long last
I have a new puzzle on my hands. I don’t know of any places in the neighborhood with enough coontie to support the Atala Blue butterfly (Eumaeus atala), but I’ve got one “sleeping” on my pool deck: It’s been there all morning, from 8 a.m. when I got the right profile above, to noon, when ...

A second sphinx moth: Xylophanes pluto

A second sphinx moth: <em>Xylophanes pluto</em>
Last year I found an adult sphinx moth, Enyo lugubris, on our pool fence. It was the first sphinx moth I’d found on our new property, and it sure brightened up my morning. The other evening, as I was fighting another skirmish in my never-ending war against the scale bugs on my firebush, I uncovered ...

New backyard lepidopteran: Enyo lugubris

New backyard lepidopteran: Enyo lugubris
City code here in Boca requires that if you have a pool, you also have a fence to keep toddlers from toddling in. Actually, it requires two lines of defense: a fence to keep neighborhood people out of the pool, then another fence to keep residents out of the pool. This pool fence is usually ...

New backyard moth: Anticarsia gemmatalis

New backyard moth: Anticarsia gemmatalis
I was cleaning the pool deck the other day and noticed a very odd moth flying around trying to get away from the concrete and glass of the built environment and back into the natural world where it would be much more at home. As you can see, it made it: And it has a ...

Zebra Heliconian larvae

Zebra Heliconian larvae
Back around Labor Day I wrote a couple of short pieces about the various egg-laying episodes I’ve seen on the hybrid passionvine in our back yard. This particular plant is a cross between our native Passiflora incarnata and a Mexican variety, thus explaining why our “3-lobed” native has 5-lobed leaves. The star of the September ...

Late October

Late October
It’s late October, and in South Florida that means it’s going to be either windy, or hot, or both. Today we’ve got a bit of both: a steady 7–8 mph east wind, with gusts up to 14 mph, and a temperature of 83°F. Mercifully, the humidity is relatively low (under 60%), so the heat index isn’t ...

Plume moth 2

Plume moth
Last week while I was out taking pictures of the muhly grass that’s just now beginning to flower (a sure sign of fall here in “seasonless” Florida), I ran across a flying beast that introduced me to a new lepidopteran family: the plume moths, Pterophoridae. These unusual little (and I mean little—these guys are tiny! ...

Backyard butterfly: Cassius Blue

Backyard butterfly: Cassius Blue
One great thing about working from home is that it’s relatively easy to see wonderful things on your lunch break—that is, if you’ve planted the right backyard habitat. Last week I wrote about the butterfly-attracting qualities of Heliotropium angiospermum, or Scorpion’s-Tail, which is conveniently located between my pool and the backyard fence. Back then, I ...

Early morning lepidoptera

Early morning lepidoptera
Was out early last Sunday mowing (with a reel mower, no motors) the lawn (all volunteer plants, not watered except by the rain) and watching the boy play in the sandbox when I noticed this striking little butterfly on our good old Florida native scorpion’s-tail (Heliotropium angiospermum, which is a wonderful little plant that I ...

Caught in the act! 1

Caught in the act!
I wrote some months ago about a new vine I planted along our backyard fence: Passiflora suberosa, the Corkystem Passionvine. It’s a nice little vine, with nice little flowers. But it’s a small vine, and it hasn’t taken off the way I’d hoped it would. So a few weeks ago when I went to get ...