We collected eggs and larvae of the wild indigo duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae) for the first time on wild blue indigo (Baptisia australis).
Every year, we always wonder what new species we will encounter for the first time. Sometimes we find species that we’ve been searching for a long time but never had any luck until then (i.e. Papilio polyxenes). More often, though, on the randomest of days, we come across an interesting new discovery just by pure chance. Today was one of those days.
We were collecting golden alexanders plants at the clearing behind the Botanic Gardens that leads down to the Mundy Wildflower garden when our eyes just happened to glaze past a small, orange-red, ribbed, dome-shaped egg on the new shoot of a blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis).
We didn’t know anything about indigo plants until today let alone that they had eggs on them, so we weren’t sure what species the egg was. However, based on the ribbed, dome shape and color resemblance to Erynnis tristis eggs we found back in California, we were pretty confident it was a skipper egg. A quick scan of the two indigos there soon had us realizing that they were literally covered in dozens of eggs of various stages (based on color), from white and pink, to orange-red. In addition, there were several first instar caterpillars hidden in folded new shoots which were sealed with thick strands of silk. The leaf folding behavior and larval morphology pretty much gave it away instantly that they were skipper larvae.
After collecting dozens of the eggs and a couple of larvae, we identified them as the wild indigo duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae), a dusky wing skipper native to New England that specializes on wild indigo. It hit us then why there were always small dark skippers around the location. In fact, we even saw one fly past when we were leaving.
Like we already mentioned, this isn’t the first time we have encountered skipper larvae of the genus Erynnis. We reared several E. tristis larvae back at home that fed on live oak that were some of the most interesting larvae we had ever seen. We look forward to rearing these E. baptisiae larvae and seeing how they look when they are larger.
Alan Liang is a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York pursuing an undergraduate degree in entomology. He is co-owner and a main contributor of the Liang Insects blog and photographs.
Ithaca, New York
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations and experiences with various insects (primarily Lepidoptera) around the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, starting from the time we moved here in 2017. As this is a personal blog, we try to keep collections/rearings for university research and course work to a minimum, and mainly focus on just the species we catch and raise for our own fun and interest. Posts prior to this time can be viewed at Timeline 2012-2017: Albany, California, though there is occasionally some crossover when we have returned home during breaks or reared stock derived from home (see Albany, California Updates).
July 2020 (1)
August 2019 (2)
July 2019 (35)
June 2019 (46)
May 2019 (20)
March 2019 (1)
January 2019 (1)
September 2018 (1)*
August 2018 (9)*
July 2018 (11)*
June 2018 (22*)
May 2018 (18)*
April 2018 (2)*
January 2018 (6)
December 2017 (5)
November 2017 (1)
October 2017 (5)
September 2017 (26)
August 2017 (19)
*Currently, a significant portion of 2018 posts are missing. The notes/photos for this time period are saved on our personal files but the posts were never built due to a busy schedule that year. We are still actively building these posts when we have the time.
Full Species List
(Alphabetical by scientific name)
- Not every species we encounter is necessarily presented on this site, rather a selection of those that were of particular interest to us and that we felt were worth documenting.
- We can't guarantee that all species have been identified accurately, particularly taxa we are not as familiar with.
Battus philenor hirsuta
Liminitis arthemis arthemis
Limenitis arthemis astyanax
Papilio polyxenes asterius
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Albany, California Updates