Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LAS ORUGAS!!! - pt. 2 Gulf Fritillaries

We are also raising the caterpillars of Gulf Fritillaries, which subsist on Passion Vines. It is a tropical butterfly, and the gulf coast of Texas is at the Northern end of it's range. This is not a species whose caterpillars do well in cold weather, so we fear that they may be doomed by the season. Here are some pics of the Gulf Fritillary at various points of it's development

* Oh, I almost forgot... both the caterpillars and adults of both the Gulf Fritillary and the Monarch are poisonous, due tho the poisonous plants they consume (as larvae).

Native Passionvine sp.

G.F. egg

G.F. eggs right before hatching

G.F. Chrysalis

Newly emerged butterfly with chrysalis
and caterpillar preparing to form chrysalis

Adult G.F. butterflies feed at a variety of
nectar plants.


Egg laying

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LAS ORUGAS!!! - pt. 1 Monarchs

Even though we are approaching winter, and the days are getting colder, we in the South are still able to enjoy butterflies and their caterpillars (sometimes well into December). I still find Monarch caterpillars on the Mexican Milkweed. We are trying to raise them to adulthood in the building, hoping that on the day of emergence we have temperate enough weather for them to survive. Here are some pics of the different stages of development.

Danaus plexipus

Mexican Milkweed


Caterpillar on a Milkweed plant, Monarch
caterpillars only feed on various species of
Milkweed, genus Asclepias

Caterpillar hangs from perch by back legs,
making the distinctive J shape, preparing
to form a chrysalis.

Caterpillar to chrysalis

The chrysalis on the left contains a butterfly
close to emerging.

Butterfly emerges from the chrysalis

Although the caterpillars only feed on Milkweed,
the adults will utilize a number of nectar plants.

Notice the 2 spots on the hindwings. These are
Androconial Patches, which only the males possess, and
release scents used to attract females.


When people say that birds "go South for the winter", Texas is one of those Southern destinations for birds. At the park, some of those winter migrants (birds that migrate here to spend the winter) have arrived. Here is a brief photo gallery of some of the current birds of winter.







Saturday, November 22, 2008

ORDER Opiliones - The Harvestmen

This is another group of Arachnids that are NOT SPIDERS! The Harvestmen, often referred to as Daddy Longlegs, are in their own order (Opiliones). Here are their stats:

- 8 legs
- 1 Body section (spiders have 2)
- 2 eyes
- Mouth parts are gripping and tearing
- No venom, no silk gland

From the above information above, you can probably determine that the urban legend about them being the deadliest animal in the world is... um, false.

Cave species

Microscopic harvestmen