After establishing the dominant local skippers (Hesperiidae) as the silver spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) and the least skipper (Ancyloxpha numitor), we stumbled across some of their immatures.
After just one week of arriving here in Ithaca, we've already seen so many silver spotted and least skippers along the trails of Beebe Lake and other natural areas. The silver spotted skipper feeds on locust (which is extremely abundant here) as a larva, so we figured that it'd be likely that we could find some on it. The least skipper, on the hand, is just another one of those countless grass skippers that feed on certain grasses. We see them flying around grass and we found a first instar on our first walk along Beebe. We never kept that one, but tried looking for them again.
The collection took place this afternoon along Beebe, and was actually part of our lab for our entomology class, but since this is a personal blog, we'll try to keep collections for course work to a minimum in these posts, and mainly focus on just the things we catch and raise for fun. While hiking along the trail, we made our way to the sunny area that starts midway down where there is grass for the least skippers and isolated black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) ideal for finding larvae. We first went and took a look at the grass as there were least skippers flying about them as always. After a brief search, we couldn't spot any nests with larvae inside, but we did find a bright yellow egg.
Next, as we past the locust while busy collecting other specimen, we just so happened to spot a gorgeous yellow-green silver spotted skipper resting in its silk nest in the locust leaves! The larva was quite large and was probably fourth instar, and had the characteristic skipper appearance, with a very narrow "neck" (prothorax), and a large, round head with orange spots. The abdomen was very plump and striped in green. The nest was built like other skippers we have seen, with thick strands of silk holding the leaves together into a loose cocoon like structure. It reminds us of quite a bit of the Erynnis tristis larvae we reared last summer at home, they are not closely related. We collected the larva and brought it home to rear rather than kill for our entom class. Hopefully we'll find more of them later on our own time, as they should be very common based on the abundance of the adult butterflies.
We went hiking at Beebe Lake in Ithaca, New York for the first time and found a handful of species we had never encountered before.
It's been a few days since we posted anything because we have been so busy moving in to our new home in Ithaca, New York. And because we haven't had any insects on us.
Today we finally got the chance to go out and get our feet wet again. Cornell University is a huge place known for its natural beauty; there are plenty of natural areas to explore. The first place we went was Beebe Lake, which is the closest place to our dorm. There is a trail that circles the lake covered in trees and wild flower nectar plants.
The first things that we photographed were least skippers (Ancyloxypha numitor) which is eerily similar yet completely different that any of the grass skippers we had back in California. The least skippers are very small with long and skinny bodies, which is the complete opposite of the extremely heavyset Californian skippers. This seems to be a common trend when comparing the butterflies of the two regions. We saw at least three of the least skippers circling a patch of wild grass that were most likely females or males looking to court females. We expected there to be eggs, but did not find any; instead, we discovered a first instar larva rolled up in a nest. The way that the nest was fashioned (a few separate white strands going from one side of the blade to the other) and the appearance of the larva is all very similar to the umber skippers (Poanes melane) that we have reared in the past.
Although less common than the skippers, we did come across a few hairstreaks, including this eastern-tailed blue (Cupido comyntas). At least that's what we think it is.
Another common skipper we found was the silver-spotted (Epargyreus clarus). These things are huge--much larger than any skipper we have ever seen—and quite attractive. The larvae also look amazing and feed on locusts, such as the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) that is everywhere on campus. We hope to find some one day.
Right next to the skipper above, we found a duo of mating hoppers. We believe they are red-legged grasshoppers (Melanoplus femurrubrum), which makes them in the same (huge orthopteran) genus as the devastators (Melanoplus devastator) that we had back in California. The trail actually seems to be thoroughly invested with these grasshoppers and other orthoperans (we hear a ton of chirping in the night and throughout the day). There are some large grey ones that are extremely strong flyers. Their wings are black with white margins when spread. They should be the Carolina grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina).
When we made it half way through the trail and decided to head backwards, we found a young tussock moth larva that must of had fallen from a nearby tree. We took a guess and put it on a black walnut (Juglans nigra). We believe the larva could be the white-marked tussock (Orgyia leucostigma), also placing it in the same genus to the species we had in California (western tussock [Orgyia vetusta]).
Ithaca, New York
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations and experiences with various insects 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 for our entomology 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.
June 2018 (2)
May 2018 (15)
April 2018 (2)
January 2018 (2)
December 2017 (8)
November 2017 (1)
October 2017 (5)
September 2017 (25)
August 2017 (18)
Full Species List
(Alphabetical by scientific name)
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Full Species List
(Alphabetical by scientific name)
Butterflies & Moths
Common checkerspot skipper
Great spangled fritillary
Milkweed tussock moth
Salt marsh moth
Virginia creeper sphinx
Western tiger swallowtail
White-marked tussock moth
Butterfly & Moth Hybrids
Black swallowtail × anise swallowtail
Grasshoppers, Katydids, & Crickets
Carolina band-winged grasshopper
Lesser meadow katydid
Sword-bearing conehead katydid
Two-spotted tree cricket
Cornell Botanic Gardens
Mundy Wildflower Garden
Albany, California Updates