Sleepy Orange from the South

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

A Sleepy Orange butterfly at Middle Run Natural Area, 8/23/10. Photo by Hank Davis.

As late summer rolls along, there is a great deal of movement in wildlife populations.  We often think of the songbirds starting to move south and the Monarch butterflies beginning their long voyage to Mexico, but sometimes there are strange exceptions to the “head south as fall begins” rule. 

This week at Middle Run Natural Area, our birding group made a unique discovery of an uncommon butterfly from the south.  A Sleepy Orange, a member of the sulphur family related the our familiar Clouded Sulphur, appeared along the trail and its brilliant orange upperwing  captured our attention.  Hank Davis snapped some great photos to document this unusual find.  After consulting the field guides, we all had a “life” butterfly to add to our lists.   The Sleepy Orange is only rarely seen in our region in late summer, and thus becomes a prize find for us naturalist-types.

A Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar at Middle Run, August 23, 2010. Photo by Hank Davis.

Another interesting insect that we came across is this Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar.  Nearly four inches long  and thick as a finger, this creature with the sinister-looking antenna still has a lot of growing to do.   These guys top out at six inches long and will turn a blue-green when they reach they final instar stage of caterpillar-hood.  Hickory Horned Devils are harmless, but they sure are a monstrous caterpillar! 

If you are interested in insects, join us for the second-annual Middle Run Bio-Blitz this Saturday, August 28, from 8:00am until early afternoon.  We will search for butterflies, dragonflies, bees, and other six-legged creatures.  Join in the fun at Middle Run!  We will meet in the main parking lot off of Possum Hollow Road.

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