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Old Sep 16, 2007, 8:14 PM   #11
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Hi penolta,

Your butterfly emergence series are fascinating and beautifully done. As a birder, I often get comments about how patient and observant I must be, but IMO, what I do is childsplay compared to what had to go into your Monarch and Gulf Fritillary series. My hat's off to ya. . .

Scott
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Old Sep 16, 2007, 10:24 PM   #12
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Thanks for the kind words, people.

Scott - I don't know that I agree. Havingtried to dowhat you do for many years, I know whereof you speak. Getting good pictures of birds is much harder. Since the weather is good and this is allnow literally in my backyard, it is childsplay for me (now inmy second childhood) by comparison-- it is easy to keep tabs on what is going on. My wife, whose eyes are better for this than mine is a great help (she is nearsighted, I am farsighted). The only frustration is the almost constant breeze which keeps the plants swaying, and the butterflies in almost constant motion. Besides, birds eat insects, so it behooves you to know something about them, too (knowing the food habits of birds helps you know where and when to find them to photograph). However, you are right about patience - you can wait hours for a bird to show up, but it takes weeks for a chrysalis to mature (a watched chrysalis never splits, I have been heard to mutter, as I gave up waiting for that one on the wall which still hasn't emerged).
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Old Sep 16, 2007, 10:24 PM   #13
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duplicate post - please delete.
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Old Sep 19, 2007, 7:04 AM   #14
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i have enough problems taking butterfly photos
this is a really cool series
and educational too
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Old Sep 19, 2007, 7:37 AM   #15
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Excellent Penolta, and very informative.
My big problem in photographing butterflies is that we don't seem to see many in this area, don't know why. When you do see the odd one, oftener than not the common Cabbage White ... the camera is always some distance away, by the time you get it BF is long gone ... Drat !. ... Jack.
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Old Sep 19, 2007, 1:32 PM   #16
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Thanks for the comments. It has been educational for me, too. For instance, I had no idea a butterfly could remain active during pupation. I had found one of the fritillaries on a plant stake that I pulled up to get the pupa in better light, and as Imanipulated the stick, the pupa would slowly twist into a different configuration. Nearly every one we found in an exposed place was pointed in a different direction. I could not imagine why they assumed such different positions until we found the two hidden among the twisted dead leaves and saw how well camouflaged they were, but I still don't know whether they are responding to changes inposition or light - another experiment for another time. If you look along the sides of the abdomen (above the wing pads) of the mature chrysalis in frame #5, you can see the spiracles (openings to the air capillaries), so it is even possible that these arebreathing movements thathelpin airexchange as well. The Monarch chrysalis also seems to show very subtle changes, expanding in one areawhile contracting in another - so subtile that I had thought it my imagination until I compared thephotographs I had takenat regular intervals (another plus for digital photography - you no longer need a research grant to pay for all the film and processing so many exposures would have required).
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Old Sep 23, 2007, 11:09 PM   #17
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Finishing this was a close call - we had an unseasonable storm two nights ago that seems to have wiped out most of the Fritillaries - there were only three today of the dozens that were here the day before the storm. There was a lot of heavy duty egg laying going on, so there may be surviving larvae and pupae to repopulate the yard, if the warm weather returns as it is supposed to do. The wasps have been active combing the vines for smaller caterpillars, so we will see how many they may have missed.
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Old Oct 3, 2007, 3:49 PM   #18
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This is one of the wasps that has been hunting caterpillars in the yard. Yesterday I saw one attacking a monarch caterpillar nearly as large as it was. This is one predator that is not deterred by the caterpillars defences.
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Old Oct 3, 2007, 3:52 PM   #19
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Things are returning to normal after the storm. I had not previously had a photo of a male Fritillary. Compare this one with the female at the beginning of this thread - the female has more black in the forewing.
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Old Oct 3, 2007, 5:14 PM   #20
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beautiful shot penolta. thanks for taking the time to document this amazing life cycle. very informative.

- hung
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