Thursday, September 30, 2010

Box Elder Bug

The fall season is definitely upon us.  The maples are exploding into dazzling crimson foliage, and the Box Elders Bugs are swarming on the south side of buildings.
Box Elder Bugs, Boisea trivittata, as their name implies, are partial to Box Elder trees, but also to maples and ashes.  They feed on sap, leaves, flowers and twigs, but usually do not do too much damage to the trees. The oddly patterned bug on the lower, center edge of this photo is an immature Box Elder Bug.

They are also known as Garage Bugs, since Box Elder Bugs invade homes to overwinter.  They usually remain in walls or behind siding, where they are inactive.  Like some other bugs, they produce glycerol that they use as an internal antifreeze. Often these bugs make their way deeper into our houses, usually as we turn the heat on for winter.  These bugs smell and taste bad--as their coloration seems to predict--and are sometimes called stink bugs (although other bugs also share this name). They do not feed during the winter.  The fact that they do not damage houses is fortunate, since there is little you can do to control an infestation of Box Elder Bugs once they get into your home.  You can try vacuuming them (Iowa State University).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

While exploring the Carleton College Arboretum on Sunday, Erika and I encountered a juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  The young birds do not completely molt out of this brown plumage until their first spring.  Curiously, I have never banded a juvenile sapsucker.

Due to their sap-sucking habits, sapsuckers depend an flowing sap.  They are, therefore, our most migratory woodpecker.  Sapsuckers breed across Alaska, Canada, and the northern United States.  They winter in the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies.  (Individuals breed as far south as southeastern Minnesota and will occasionally attempt to winter here.)  Females winter further south than do males (most birds in Central America are females, most in central regions of the United States are males). 

Males do the lion's share of breeding duties.  They stake breeding territories, pick and do most of the excavation of the nests, share egg incubation, and provide all the nighttime care of the young.  The males also do most of the nest cleaning and feeding of the young.  If one parent dies, young are most likely to survive if they are raised by the male (Smithsonian National Zoological Park).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eastern Chipmunk

The word chipmunk probably comes from a Native American word for squirrel.  I was tempted to title this post "Zombie Chipmunk," due to the eye reflecting my camera flash.  This reflection is caused by  the tapetum lucidum, a layer behind or in the retinas of many vertebrates.  We humans lack this layer, which improves night vision.  The down-side to the tapetum lucidum is that it does not result in sharp vision like ours.

Eastern Chipmunks are rodents found across much of eastern North America.  They make extensive burrows for sleeping, nesting, and storing food. They are usually quite common, and their loud, repeated chirps can easily be mistaken for bird calls.  Their vocalizations are used for staking out territories and for alarm. In the winter, chipmunks go into torpor, waking frequently to eat from their food caches, but usually staying in their burrows.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shaggy Mane

The Shaggy Mane, Coprinus comatus, is a common mushroom of yards and roadsides. In my recent post on The Chicken of the Woods, I commented that only fools eat wild mushrooms. Really what I meant is that only a fool would eat a wild mushroom based on MY identification! According to The Mushroom Hunter's Field Guide by Alexander Smith (1967), the Shaggy Mane is edible and choice.

Steve Weston, who helped me identify this mushroom, writes, "There are no toxic look-alikes. This is one that I like to eat. I take a pint of mushrooms and a package of cream cheese and melt them together in a frying pan. If memory is correct, that's all there is to the recipe. Great dip. A related mushroom, the Alcohol Inky (Coprinus atramentarius) is interesting. The mushroom is edible, except that it contains an amino acid that interferes with the metabolism of alcohol causing an interesting set of alarming symptoms if alcohol is consumed within the next 48 to 96 hours." Another name for this mushroom is Tippler's Bane.

Once Erika assigned me to her kitchen. I made lamb with mushroom sauce. I bought the mushrooms at a local grocery store, including a bag labeled "mushroom medley." The bag must have contained the Alcohol Inky that Steve mentions above. Erika and I were sick puppies. Erika missed work the next day, the only time in memory. Ever since I have had an aversion to wild mushrooms. My physician commented that the Alcohol Inky is sometimes used as a folk treatment of alcoholism--nobody will mix a bottle of wine and and an Alcohol Inky twice! Erika never invited me back into her kitchen....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Winter Wren

On Tuesday I banded a Winter Wren.  This wren was once thought to range from Europe and Asia across North America.  In 2010, however, this changed.  The American Ornithologists' Union now recognizes two species in North America, in addition to a third species in the Old World. The American species are named the Winter and Pacific Wrens. Pacific Wrens are found in the Rocky Mountains from the Aleutian Islands south to the San Francisco region and, further inland (but still in the mountains) in Canada and Montana.  The Winter Wren is found east of the Rockies across boreal Canada and in the northern United States (northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New England, and the Appalachians).

David Sibley writes about the difficulties involved in identifying these two new species.  Telling them apart is very difficult, and best done by their call notes.  Even differentiating the call notes is challenging.  So why are these species recognized?  The DNA patterns of these two populations do not mingle and are consistent, even where the two forms overlap, for call and song types.  (For a detailed discussion of these wrens' genetics, follow this link.)  I guess fortunately for us Minnesotans, the Pacific Wren is very unlikely to occur here--see the maps posted by Sibley.  Birders along the front range of the Rockies, where both species migrate or winter, will probably not be sure which species they encounter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eastern Tailed-Blue

I figure this butterfly is an Eastern Tailed Blue, common across much of North America.  Erika and I found discovered it in the Carleton College Arboretum last week. The wiry tails that should be sticking out from its hind wings are often destroyed, as in this critter.  Liking open country, this species benefits from deforestation, and is common in fields, roadsides, and mud puddles. According to Wikipedia, Eastern Tailed-blues secrete a substance that attracts some ants. The ants, in turn, protect the butterfly larva from predators.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Large Milkweed Bug

On last Wednesday's Carleton College Arboretum stroll, Erika and I came upon a Common Milkweed that was crawling with orange and black bugs.  Definitely a photographic and blogging opportunity!  The bugs were the wrong pattern for the somewhat similar Elm Bug, and, besides, they infested milkweed.  Googling the words "milkweed bug" took me right to the Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus.
As this bug's name implies, all stages of this bug mainly feed on milkweed. In May or June, adults that survive the winter begin to mate. Males and females can be connected for up to ten hours. Females lay about 30 eggs a day during the summer. Nymphs molt up to five times before becoming adults. Because they fed on milkweed sap and seeds, these bugs accumulate glycosides. You may recall Monarch Butterflies do the same thing. Both insects sport bright orange colors, serving as a warning to potential predators that they are distasteful, if not downright poisonous. Animals with such warning colors are often seen in nature, and the acquisition of such patterns is called aposematic evolution.
Most of the information for this blog was gleaned from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Goldenrod Galls and Downy Woodpeckers

Last Wednesday Erika and I strolled in the Carleton College Arboretum. Our goal was to find a Canada Goldenrod gall.  Erika found one almost immediately. 
The thick, hard gall is produced by an insect grub, the offspring of the Goldenrod Gall Fly. The presence of the larval insect causes goldenrod cells to produce the gall, a growth much like a cancerous tumor.  Inside the gall is a chamber in which the larva overwinter. You can see the chamber and the grub in the next photo.  In addition to the gall, the grub. winthin its body, produces glycerol, which works like antifreeze. 
Grubs are used as bait during the winter when fishermen can not find worms.  The larvae are also preyed upon by Downy Woodpeckers. Because the woodpeckers prefer large galls (they have bigger grubs), areas with lots of woodpeckers tend to have smaller galls. However, a wasp preys upon Goldenrod Gall Fly larvae by laying eggs in the gall. The larvae are eaten by the young wasps. In areas with lots of wasps, goldenrod galls tend to be large (harder for the wasps to penetrate).  Areas with both wasps and Downy Woodpeckers support galls of intermediate size.  (Most of this information is from the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Blackpoll Warbler

Fall Blackpoll Warblers have few field marks.  Even compared to other fall Blackpolls, this bird is drab.  A Confusing Fall Warbler, this species is identified by a streaked back and sides.  These field marks are not very evident in this photograph.  The clincher is the Blackpoll Warbler's yellow toes (some even have yellow continuing up their tarsi)--but seeing warbler toes in the field might be tricky. Note my blog posting from 5 September 2010--the similarly plumaged fall Bay-breasted Warbler has black toes.
Blackpolls breed across northern Canada and central Alaska and winter in South America.  Alaskan birds wintering in Brazil may migrate over 8,000 km.  During the fall migration, some birds fly from the northeastern United States to the Antilles, a route that carries them over some 3,000 km of open water, a journey that probably takes up to 88 hours.

Blackpoll breeding behavior is virtually unknown.  At least some Blackpolls are polygnous.  Early in the breeding season, if some males are slow to arrive from the south, females will mate with already mated males; furthermore, males with rich territories attract multiple mates.  Blackpolls are also poorly studied in South America. Erika and I observed Blackpoll Warblers in the winter when we birded in a coffee plantation in eastern Peru. In South America, Blackpolls travel with other migrants in mixed species flocks. Much of the information in this post is from Hunt and Eliason (1999).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Chicken of the Woods

My elderly mother peered out our back window and asked, "What are those yellow flowers in the back woods?"

"Don't know Mom, " replied I, but to placate her I said, "I'll walk up there and take a look."

I was amazed to come upon several two-foot wide excrescences growing on a fallen tree. A bit of Internet research came up with Sulphur Shelf, vaguely related to the edible mushrooms from the grocery store.  This fungus is also called Chicken of the Woods, as it is edible if you collect the correct stages and if you are foolish enough to eat wild mushrooms (Smith, the Mushroom Hunter's Field Guide, 1867). 

The Chicken of the Woods causes heart rot in standing and fallen oaks (and other hardwood trees).  The fungus was once thought to occur across much of North America, but genetic experiments indicate that, what once were thought to be a single species, are actually a half dozen species.  The Chicken of the Woods is limited to eastern North America. This shelf fungus attacks trees, usually high up in the branches, well before it is visible to the casual observer.  By the time you notice the fungus, you probably can not save the tree (Michael Kuo).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wood Thrush

I banded this hatching-year Wood Thrush on Monday, 13 September 2010.  I reported on a spring capture of this species in my blog post dated 13 May 2010.  I include the species again in my blog because I was struck by the beauty of this birds auriculars (the feathers that cover the ears).  Looking back on my earlier post, I did not find the auriclars of that second-year bird to be as strikingly striped as this on this bird. The auriculars on the May bird definitely appear to be more worn.

Wood Thrushes are fairly common breeding birds in the forests surrounding my Dundas banding site. Most females attempt to rear two broods a summer, but two broods may require up to four nesting attempts. Males and females feed the the young but only the females incubate (Roth et al. 1966). Wood Thrush populations have decreased significantly since the late 1970s.  They are vulnerable to deforestation, both in North America and in their winter range in Central and northern South America.  Forest clearing results in the thrush being more prone to predation.  Fragmented forests in their breeding range also leaves them vulnerable to cowbird parasitism (Roth et al. 1966).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Thursday evening I banded a male Black-throated Blue Warbler (see photo above).  The female in the lower photo is a previous year's bird.  This bird is one of the few warblers that does not molt into a CFW (confusing fall warbler) plumage--males remain bright throughout the year. The sexes look so different that mid-19th century ornithologists thought males and females were different species. 

Black-throated Blue Warblers breed in dense boreal forests in northeast North America and down the Appalachians. The species nests only as far west as the Arrowhead of Minnesota.  Logging and clearing have probably caused population declines during the last 300 years.  As many fields and pastures return to forest, populations of this warbler are increasing.   In the future, populations again may fall due to deforestation in the Caribbean, where Black-throated Blue Warblers spend the winter (Holmes et al. 2005).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

White-striped Black Moth

This forest-inhabiting White-striped Black Moth (Trichodezia albovittata) flew out of the woods and landed on our deck.  Only with the help of Tony Gomez was I able to identify it. This moth flies during the day and not at night.  The larvae feed on fireweed, meadow-rue and impatiens. Curiously, documented records for this species appear to be sparse across the northeast United States, west to Arkansas, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

How different Yellow-rumped Warblers are now compared to their glorious spring plumage.  To see the contrast, look at my 1 May 2010 blog entry.

I have titled today's entry as Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler because recently ornithologists have merged western and eastern populations of this warbler into one species.  Western birds used to be called Audubon's Warblers; eastern ones Myrtles.  Spring birds are easy to tell apart.  Audubon's Warblers have bright yellow throats. Myrtles are white-throated. Bird banders still report them as either one form or the other, but most birders just call them all Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Fall Myrtle Warblers, like this one, have brown auriculars (ear covering feathers) that are more or less surrounded by at least a thin pale edge. Audubon Warblers lack pale-edged auriculars, giving them a more hooded appearance.  We should be alert to Audubon Warblers in Minnesota, where a handful of records exist. I occasionally observed them in eastern South Dakota, and they breed in the Black Hills.  

Because most birders now call all of these birds Yellow-rumped Warblers, we may rue the day these forms were lumped into one species. Their range overlap is limited to a 200 km band of passes in the Rocky Mountains along the border of British Columbia and Alberta.  The genetic differences between the two types are subtle, but distinct.  Hybrids between the two may suffer higher mortality than do either parental type (Hunt and  Flaspohler 1998).  A betting person might put his/her money on our seeing the two forms again split into discrete species. If they are made into separate species, we will have to guess which form today's birders observed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mourning Warbler (VCFW)

If you observed this VCFW (VERY Confusing Fall Warbler) in the field, you might be tempted to identify it as a Connecticut Warbler.  I think that there are two reasons why this mystery bird is not a Connecticut Warbler.  The narrow eye ring is not complete.  In the next photograph, note the wide, complete eye ring of a Connecticut Warbler I banded near Dundas last fall. The measurements are wrong for a Connecticut.  According to Pyle's Identification Guide to North American Birds: Connecticut Warbler wing length minus their tail length = 19-27 mm.  The formula for the bird above gives you 7mm.
What about a MacGillivray's Warbler? The wing minus tail formula for MacGillivray's works out to 2-12 mm, within the range of the mystery bird. First, only one documented record exists for this western warbler in Minnesota, a bird that was found in the far western part of the state.  Second, as you can see in the next photo of a MacGillivray's Warbler banded in Aberdeen, South Dakota, even in the fall this warbler's eye ring is broad and clearly broken into upper and lower halves. 
The only remaining candidate for the mystery bird is the Mourning Warbler.  The wing minus tail measurement should be 9-18 mm.  The first bird's 7 mm is a tad low, falling into the MacGillivray's range!  A few other little problems nag me.  In my photos, the MacGillivray's throat is slightly yellowish and the mystery Mourning Warbler's throat is whitish--exactly opposite of field marks cited by Sibley in his Guide to Birds.  Sibley does caution that those field marks are only "usually" present.  The loral area--between the bill and the eye, is blackish on the MacGillivray's Warbler but whitish on the Mourning.  I once thought this difference was significant, but apparently Mourning Warblers can sport dark (as well as gray) lores.  The area above the lores, the supralorals, should be white in a MacGillivary's and yellowish in a Mourning.  The the color of the supralorals are hard to see in both of my photographs--but curiously they are both yellowish (trust me).  Finally, note that hybirds between these warblers have been reported.

The bottom line?  I believe the relatively narrow, broken, white eye ring of the mystery bird indicates that it is a Mourning Warbler and that the wing and tail measurements indicate that it is definitely not a Connecticut.  The eye ring is the wrong shape, and the supralorals the wrong color, for a MacGillivray's Warbler. Finally, I hope I have convinced you that these three species certainly are confusing!

Monday, September 13, 2010

European Starling

Although they can make entertaining pets, European Starlings are almost nobody's favorite bird.  This species was introduced by "Shakespeare enthusiasts" to the New York area in the early 1890s (Cornell Lab of Ornithology).  The idea was to release in North America all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare.  From as few as 100 European birds, starlings now number in excess of 200 million across most of North America.  To make matters worse, starlings out-compete our native cavity nesting birds, much to the detriment of the endemic species (Cabe 1993).
Non-birders are sometimes confused by starling plumages.  The birds start out being uniformly tan.  They molt into a speckled plumage during the fall.  In the photo above, the bird on the right is a young bird that has almost molted into its first basic plumage.  Only its head retains its tan juvenile feathers.  The bird on the left has molted into fresh winter plumage--most of its feathers are white tipped.  Over the winter, these white spots will wear off, resulting in a shiny, oily-looking spring bird--like the bird below, which was photographed in South Dakota several springs ago.  Note also the yellow bill of the spring bird; the bills of juvenile and winter starlings are black.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Swainson's Thrush

I wrote about this thrush in my blog of 9 May 2010.  To those comments, let me add the following (inspired by banding several Swainson's Thrushes during this first week of September).

This species was first described by Thomas Nuttall in 1840 from specimens taken in Washington State. Nuttall (1786-1859) was an English botanist and zoologist who explored much the United States and Canada.  Among his many publications was the first inexpensive, popular guide to North American birds.  The English ornithologist William Swainson (1789-1855) published prodigiously and studied birds from around the world.  Nuttall was probably especially recognizing Swainson's work on Canadian forest birds when he commemorated Swainson with this thrush's common name. Note, however, that the scientific name for this bird is Catharus ustulatus.

The common name for Swainson's Thrush used to be Olive-backed Thrush.  The problem is that many western birds have russet backs. Olive-backed and russet-backed birds differ in breeding habitat, vocalizations, and wintering grounds.   Nevertheless, to the best of my knowledge, the splitting of these birds into distinct species has not been proposed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lance-tipped and Common Green Darner

The Lance-tipped is able to regulate its body temperature (both by shivering and by retaining heat in its abdomen produced in the thorax by its flying) which enables it to fly in temperatures too cold for most dragonflies.  Thanks to Scott King for help with identifying this critter.

During last month's heat, Erika and I strolled in the Carleton College Arboretum.  As we walked, we kicked up many Common Green Darners.  (I wrote about this dragonfly on 6 August 2010.)  On this 90 degree day, the darners were regulating their body temperatures by resting in the shade of the bushes and under the leaves along the trail.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magnolia Warbler

As you can see in this photograph, I banded this wind-blown Magnolia Warbler during yesterday's winds. Alexander Wilson discovered this species in 1810 in a Mississippi magnolia tree.  He named it the Black-and-yellow Warbler.  This warbler is a common nesting bird near the ground in spruce and Eastern Hemlock. Populations appear to be stable (Dunn and Hall 2010).  For the first time ever,  I missed seeing a Magnolia Warbler this spring (although I stood along side two companions who saw one that I could not find).  Despite this bird's being in drab fall plumage, the species is relatively easy to identify if you can see the broad, incomplete, white band near the base of its tail.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Northern Parula

Although I have enjoyed listening to this warbler's trill at the Lower Basswood Falls in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota, I have always considered this warbler to be a denizen of the southeast.  Actually, it is both.  Indeed, the northern and southeastern ranges may not be contiguous.  I wondered if northern and southern birds might be distinct subspecies.  The American Ornithologists' Union considers the Northern Parula to be monotypic--not dividable into distinct races.  Researchers have noticed, however, that many eastern birds are heavier than western ones and, furthermore, sing distinct songs.  DNA evidence, on the other hand, does not support these two populations as being different.

Increasing air pollution has reduced the numbers of epiphytes (plants that hang on trees) that Northern Parulas use for nesting.  Old Man's Beard, a lichen that hangs from the boughs of many northern conifers, is an example of an epiphyte. This decimation of epiphytes is especially severe in the northeast United States, where Northern Parulas are now very rare, if not extinct.  Elsewhere in North America, deforestation threatens this species.  Most of this information is from Moldenhauer and Regelski (1966).  I banded this bird on 4 September and caught it again on the 7th.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tennessee Warbler

This weekend I banded my first Tennessee Warblers of the fall.  This species is quite variable in the amount of yellow in the plumage.  The bird above is similar to a Bay-breasted Warbler, but lacks wing bars.  The bird below is less yellow, and shows more typical contrast between its greenish back and grayish head.  The thin, pointed bill of the Tennessee places it in the genus, Vermivora; the thicker billed Bay-breasted is a Dendroica.
Tennessee Warblers were named by Alexander Wilson, who discovered this species in Tennessee in 1811.  Actually this warbler is more typical of boreal Canadian forests.  Like Bay-breasted Warblers, Tennessee Warblers are spruce budworm specialists. Their numbers fluctuate with budworm outbreaks.  Tennessee Warblers are often the most abundant breeding bird in Canadian forests.  Because this warbler is often found in secondary habitats that grow after logging, this warbler is probably more common now than in recent history.  Nevertheless, its breeding biology is poorly known.  The winter ecology is better studied. Because of its predilection for shade coffee plantations in Central America, this bird might be better named the Coffee Warbler (Rimmer and Mcfarland 1998).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bay-breasted Warbler

Saturday noon my bird nets finally intersected with a mixed species flock of warblers.  The most interesting of these were two Bay-breasted Warblers, one of the most difficult to identify Confusing Fall Warblers.  Even experienced birders can have trouble telling apart Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, and Pine warblers.  Blackpoll warblers will almost always show at least some yellowish on their legs, even if restricted to the underside of their soles.  The other two birds have gray feet.  This warbler definitely sported gray feet and toes.
Pine Warblers, unlike Bay-breasted, usually show brighter "spectacles"--eye rings with a line attched to the bill area.  Pine Warblers also usually show at least faint streaking on their flanks.  Finally, Pine Warblers in comparable plumage are usually not as bright as Bay-breasted Warblers. My photo shows none of these field marks.  Finally, Bay-breasted Warblers often show a hint of chestnut on their flanks, which can almost be seen on my bird.

Bay-breasted Warbler numbers fluctuate with outbreaks of spruce budworms in the north woods.  The spraying of Canadian forests for budworms have hurt Bay-breasted Warbler populations.  Bay-breasted Warbler migrate across eastern North America. They continue to northern South America across the Gulf of Mexico.  Blackpoll Warblers, on the other hand, migrate across the western Atlantic Ocean.  Consequently, Bay-breasted Warblers are less often observed in the southeast United States (Williams 1996).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

American Toad

As we strolled through the Carleton College Arboretum, Erika and I came upon this American Toad.  This is the only toad one would expect to encounter in Rice County.  In Minnesota, American toads usually breed in the spring.  According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, "females lay up to 20,000 eggs which normally hatch within one week. Large schools of tiny, black tadpoles feed together along the edge of shallow wetlands, emerging as a mass of tiny toads within approximately six weeks. Maturity occurs in two to three years."

The general consensus on the Internet is that kissing toads will not give you warts (although touching toads may cause skin irritation, especially around the eyes or in the mouth).  Kissing (or more general contact with) princesses (or princes) may, on the other hand, pass wart-causing viruses between people.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gray Catbird

I wrote about the Gray Catbird's mimicing abilities in my blog of 16 May 2010.  For the past couple of weeks I have been banding very young catbirds.  Indeed, the catbird above in in a dusky mottled juvenile plumage that I have infrequently seen (usually young birds, like adults, are more uniformly gray).  Note also this bird's gray iris--this is another bird with gray eyes as an immature, eyes that change to a rich chestnut as a breeding adult.

One of the surprises of recent DNA research is the discovery that catbirds and other members of the family Mimidae are not related to thrushes or wrens.  Apparently they are so closely related to starlings that some researches place catbirds and starlings in the same family, Sturnidae.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gray Tree Frog

This Gray Tree Frog is green, but that is OK.  This frog is able to change colors, from gray to green and from nearly black to nearly white. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Gray Tree Frogs create their own antifreeze, by converting glycogen into glycerol, which prevents ice formation within this amphibian--a handy adaptation to Minnesota winter!  I brought this critter into the garage on a bag of charcoal.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Black Swallowtail

A dozen Black Swallowtails are newcomers to our Community Supported Agriculture farm.  They are butterflies of open fields and gardens.  Males are territorial, often chasing rivals away from flowers.  This species is found in across the eastern United States and into northern Mexico.  Some internet sources claim they are found in South America and even Australia--there seems to be some confusion here.  Australia is so distant from North America; one wonders how an unaided butterfly might make that leap.  In any case, they are partial to dill, carrots, parsley and fennel.