As spring rains give way to warm, sunny days, the meadows of Mount Rogers come to life with the emergence of a plethora of insects. Among these creatures is a beetle with a striking iridescent blue body and a yellow-orange wash across its elytra (forewings).
Hyalophora Cecropia isn't a moth that I expected to see at my moth light here in the mountains. I had a brief glimpse of one in Lake Waccamaw State Park in North Carolina fourteen years ago today (5/20/14). The only time I had one to examine up close and personal, I was a kid on the family farm in Delaware, 60+ years ago. Cecropias are the largest of our North American silkmoths and they are spectacular in their own right. Enjoy the pics!
Last Wednesday (5?14/14) my wife and I found a number of active dragonflies at Bass Lake on the outskirts of Blowing Rock, Watauga County, NC. We saw eastern pondhawks, common whitetails, Carolina saddlebags, and Calico pennants. The pennants sat still long enough for me to get a decent photo. Enjoy!
Identifying insects (and other critters) is a reasonable method most of the time, but sometimes is impossible. An example is the Geometer moth genus Hydriomena. There are probably several species in our area, but the color and patterns on the wings are highly variable and cannot be used safely to distinguish species.
In the Central Virginia Blue Ridge exists a phenomenal ecosystem, one that was probably shaped by raging braided mountain streams during the last iceage. It contains many disjunct species. In fact, over 90 species that are well outside their typical range have been documented here. It’s an odd mix of coastal plain, Appalachian and northern plants and animals. While several rare and endangered species exist here, today we focused on a well known Blue Ridge phenomenon: Salamanders.
Now that the weather has turned hostile to insects and other arthropods, it's time to empty my folder of stuff to post. I collected a number of caterpillars this fall and have a box of moist potting soil that has the resulting pupae. Some I identified and some not. Here's one that I couldn't decipher.