Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Robert J. "Bob" Nuelle, Jr.
Robert J. Nuelle, III and I spent the weekend of April 11 - 13, 2013 up at the ETNHC in the field. We collected for 2 nights (Friday and Saturday) and spent the daytime hours on Saturday collecting in the sandy lands area of the Jarvis Campus. This was a tremendously eventful weekend - in terms of the habitat and our discoveries. The lighting on the boardwalk on Friday night included 7 Jarvis Students who came to participate and help us count moths. Staff master photographer Stephen "Ziggy" Korevec also joined us and documented the activities over the entire weekend.
The Friday night lighting was down at the Goodwin Boardwalk and we were joined by a number of Jarvis students who were tasked with helping us count the number of Actias luna - Luna Moths that flew in to the sheets. In between Luna sightings they showed an enormous curiosity about the diversity of insects that came in to the sheets. We saw some amazing insects that night including a large number of Dobsonflies, Army Ant Queens, huge volumes of small flies, midges and gnats.
We had 1 Female Luna moth Actias luna come in along with 4 or 5 males. The female was placed into an enclosure with a male to ensure that she was fertilized. The eggs that she laid will be raised by us to get cocoons that we can distribute to teachers and home schoolers for their use in learning about the Luna Life Cycle. The real surprise of the evening was a pair of Abbott Sphinx Moths Sphecodina abottii (Male and Female). These are new for us - first in the field.
All of the unique or unusual specimens were collected and most have been spread awaiting identification during our upcoming July trip.
Saturday Morning Fieldwork:
Robert and I were up and out as soon as the ambient air temperature topped 60 degrees Fahrenheit. We took the Mule up along the Jarvis Sandy Lands Trail. Last year the warm spring brought a huge stand of Japanese Honeysuckle into bloom and it was a huge attractant for butterflies and some day flying Sphinx moths. We arrived at the patch to discover that it was not yet in bloom, so we went seeking moisture and nectar sources on the various trails. On the trip we caught a few Blue and Hairstreak Butterflies, a few Swallowtails including a beautiful Male Tiger Swallowtail on some thistle plants near the Boardwalk. While we were down by the boardwalk we decided to walk the trail looking for Satyr Butterflies. These low flying brownish beauties are frequently found in open woods near water and the Boardwalk did not disappoint. We saw a few hundred flying erratically close to the ground and managed to net a few. These are quite fragile and a delicate touch is required.
We continued on and saw a few more nice species most of which will be detailed in our Season Summary Post to the Lepidopterists' Society. We are contributors to their Distributional records
database and last year contributed 55 new County Records for Wood county alone. We hope to add 100 or more this year - fingers crossed.
We returned to the museum to pick up Steve "Ziggy" Korevec - our designated Field and Lab Photographic expert (all the photos on this blog post are his!!). I decided to stay in and process the mornings specimens so Robert III and Ziggy went out to do some more collecting. They were out for several hours and came back with some great finds but one catch - in particular was an amazement. They walked into the Invertebrate Prep Room, grinning ear to ear and Robert emptied a kill jar for me.
On the table in front of me was a Yucca Giant-Skipper Megathymus yuccae reinthali (subject to confirmation in July). This is a bug I have never seen in the wild and they only saw the one. As per usual, Robert came through with a well placed downward swing of his net. This is a very nice skipper - one that is always associated with Yucca plants (see the yuccas in the photo to the left) and I was rather surprised that we found one here in Wood County. We never saw a single one last year nor did we find any evidence of them when we looked at all the Yuccas on the Sandy land prairies. I cannot wait for July to get up and curate those specimens - it will be a great Wood County record for 2013.
Saturday Night Lighting
Will arranged for us to set-up lights at the Mineola Nature Preserve in Mineola, Texas.We arrived and began to set up on the hill behind the Playground area. We would be drawing specimens up from the Bottomland forest and adjacent lake below us. It seemed like a good place - lots of open exposure and nice deciduous trees within the drawing area of our lights. We went lights up and immediately began to get a lot of small beetles and flies but very few moths. As the night went on the moths started arriving and we soon had a lot of different species of Sphinx moths collected. We also attracted quite a few Luna Moths (both males and Females) and a gorgeous male Antheraea polyphemus Giant Silkworm moth. Late in the evening an unexpected Giant Silkworm Moth - Sphingicampa bicolor – Honey Locust Moth came in. We ended up with both a male and a female - 2 great surprises for the night.
All in all it was a great trip. We are planning a long visit in July from July 11 - 21, to help out with the NSF Summer Field School, do some collecting and host our National Moth lighting event on Saturday July 20th.
PS: Ziggy shot some amazing photos see slideshow below - we really enjoy having him along on our expeditions! I have linked to Ziggy's Blog in the Recommended Reading page. It is well worth the
time to read.
Robert J. "Bob" Nuelle, Jr.
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