October 31, 2008

Bob, in from the field, surrounded by feminine pulchritude and a motherlode of Florida butterfly expertise: Kathy Malone, Jackie Miller, and Alana Edwards, at the Bonefish Restaurant in Gainesville.

Unknown jumping spider on Carphephorus corymbosus. Photo by Linda Cooper.

Jack Shaw, Buck Cooper, Kay Eoff, Bob Pyle and Lucie Bruce with their binoculars focused on the first Loammi Skipper (Atrytonopsis loammi). Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

Bob pointing to Loammi skipper. Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

Loammi skipper. Photo by Linda F. Cooper.

The following is an entry written by Linda Cooper, Osceola County, Florida

Monday, October 20

10:15 a.m
The assignment was simple enough – find Loammi Skipper (Florida Dusted Skipper) – a ‘must see’ for Bob Pyle in his search for butterflies in Florida. His goal is high. He is looking for as many butterflies in the U. S.

as he can see in one year and it is already mid-October. He is taking pledges per species to raise money for butterfly conservation for The Xerces Society. We promised to help him in his search for this skipper in our neck of the woods. In a serendipitous moment we find Lucie Bruce, a Houston, TX butterfly enthusiast, has arrived at Bull Creek. She is invited to join Bob, Jack Shaw and Kay Eoff, who have driven from Gainesville, and Buck and me for a full day of walking wildflower fields. An extra pair of eyes is a great thing. We are wondering if we will see any butterflies today. The fields of Liatris and Carphephorus are fading fast. What had been filled with butterflies just nine days ago were largely devoid of activity in the cool morning.

Stiff breezes make following butterfly flight difficult but as the morning warms they begin to settle on the purple blossoms. The sharp-eyed Gainesville guys find the first Loammi – and then another. Soon we all begin to find them. One even had mismatched ventral hind wings with white smiley-face pattern on one side but mostly unpatterned on the other. Bob only needs to see one Loammi and we end up with ten! As we move farther along West Loop Road we find fresher Liatris and Ccarphephorus fields. Assorted swallowtails dance on the purple blossoms. Bob finds a Dotted Skipper, rarely seen so far south in the peninsula.

4:30 p.m
We finish up by driving north on Cemetery Road through water-filled mud holes. At the end of the road we walk around the old cemetery, reading headstones and markers, shaking shrubs looking for White M Hairsteak. No luck with this one.

5:15 p.m
Time to depart to meet Akers Pence in Melbourne for a quick dinner before he and Bob head south to search for tropical species. We end the day with 31 species and 249 individuals: life butterflies for most and an opportunity to spend the day with new and old friends in a beautiful area of old Florida.

So many butterflies…
so little time!


The Xerces Society • 628 NE Broadway Ste 200, Portland OR 97232 USA • tel 855.232.6639 • fax 503.233.6794 • info@xerces.org
site mapcontactgivecontact the webmaster
The Xerces Society » News

Citizen scientists tracking Ohio bumblebees

Nolly Dakroury, The Columbus Dispatch

Luciana Musetti is fascinated by bumblebees.

“They play a vital role to our environment, and they are beautiful, too,” Musetti, an entomologist and curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection at Ohio State University’s Museum of Biological Diversity, said in an email.

When she can, she photographs them. That’s why she was excited to have stumbled upon bumblebeewatch.org, a website for citizen scientists devoted to tracking bumblebee populations in North America.

“The idea of the website is, if we can track where populations are now, we can start making conservation efforts,” said Rich Hatfield, one of the founders of the website.

Read more at Dispatch.com

State probe of Portland bee deaths finds lethal dose of banned chemical

Kelly House, The Oregonian

State investigators found lethal levels of a banned insecticide in the systems of bees found dead last month in downtown Portland.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture released results Friday of investigations into the June 26 bee deaths near Pettygrove Park, as well as two nearby bee die-offs in mid-June.

Investigators collected as many as 400 dead bees, although witnesses said the total death toll could have been far larger.

The Oregonian previously reported about the Pettygrove incident, in which Portland law student Corinne Fletcher stepped outside her doorstep to find countless bumblebees dead or dying on a walkway leading into the park.

Read more at OregonLive.com

World’s Biggest Bumblebee at Risk of Extinction

John R. Platt, Scientific American

I’ve seen some big bumblebees in my time, but nothing like South America’s Bombus dahlbomii. “It looks like a flying mouse,” says Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director for the The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “It’s huge, colorful and incredibly charismatic.”

B. dahlbomii is, in fact, the world’s largest bumblebee. Native to the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile, the queens of the species can reach an amazing four centimeters in length. That’s two to three times the size of one of the most recognizable North American species, the American bumblebee (B. pensylvanicus).

Read more at ScientificAmerican.com