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!


 

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The Xerces Society » News

Just a handful of wild bee species do most of the pollination work

Sasha Harris-Lovett, LA Times

Wild bees pollinate many crops, but some bees are busier than others.

On average, only 2% of wild bee species were responsible for 80% of the pollination visits witnessed by researchers around the world, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“This study puts a spotlight on how few species actually do all the work,” said Mace Vaughan, co-director of the Pollinator Program at the Xerces Society, a nonprofit devoted to protecting invertebrates and their habitats.

David Kleijn, an ecologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, had an inkling that something like the 80-20 rule might be at work with wild bees. As he was studying the insects in farm fields in the Netherlands and in Southern Italy five years ago, he noticed something striking.

Read more at LATimes.com


Migrating Monarch Butterflies Might Actually Take to the Highway

Heather Hansman, Smithsonian.com

The Monarch butterfly population has been in decline, but the North American insects are getting some unlikely help with their migration.

This month, a Pollinator Health Task Force, formed at President Obama’s request and including government agencies from the Federal Highway Association to Fish and Wildlife as well as non-governmental partners, released a plan to protect pollinator habitat and curb pollution from pesticides. The “National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” calls for research into why pollinator populations are declining, public education, increasing and improving habitat, and forming public-private partnerships to execute these goals. But the plan also mandates some interesting infrastructure plans.

Read more at SmithsonianMag.com


USDA Program Aims To Aid Pollinators

Rita Brhel, Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan

It’s been nine years since Colony Collapse Disorder first made headlines, not only in the beekeeping community but also to the masses with reports speculating the effects of this mysterious, sudden disappearance of millions of honey bees on future supermarket prices.

Yet honey bees are continuing to suffer.

“Pollinators are struggling,” said John Holden, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C. “Last year, beekeepers report losing about 40 percent of honey bee colonies, threatening the viability of their livelihoods and the essential pollination services their bees provide to agriculture.”

There has been a silver lining to the waning health of honey bees: an exponentially increased awareness of the
importance – and fragility – of natural pollinators to the agricultural industry, not only in the United States but worldwide.

Read more at Yankton.net