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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:30 AM   #1
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Default Mostly Butterflies

Out on the trail most of yesterday, again clearing fallen trees. Passed a number of meadows that were FULL of blooming thistles - a real butterfly magnet this time of year.
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:32 AM   #2
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Here are a few more views of the Black Swallowtail enjoying thistle nectar, and spreading thistle pollen.
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:34 AM   #3
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Also spotted a (for us) rare visitor in the Thistle patch. Giant Swallowtails are fairly common down in Florida, but rarely visit East Tennessee.
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:36 AM   #4
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My good friend Vole's favorite butterfly was also visiting the Thistles. Great Spangled Fritillaries are common here, and have a long season too!
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:39 AM   #5
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Skippers were enjoying the nearby Wingstem Wild Sunflower nectar, Sulphurs were in the Ironweeds, Spicebush Swallowtails in the Lobelia, Buckeyes just sunning, and American Ladies laying eggs on the Everlastings.
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:41 AM   #6
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I was not the only observer in the butterfly meadows! Many predators know about this feast as well...
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:44 AM   #7
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And parasites too! Here is a sphinx moth caterpillar (not sure which species) that has been "attacked" by a tiny wasp. The wasp larvae lived inside the moth larva, and have recently burrowed out, formed their cocoons, and are starting to hatch. The Moth caterpillar stayed alive throughout this process! Wonder if he/she will survive to become an adult moth...
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:45 AM   #8
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Another caterpillar was "racing" down the trail and caught my eye. With all those horns and irritating hairs, Imperial Moth caterpillars probably don't worry too much about predators. (Last photos is an adult Imperial Moth, taken last year about this time...)
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:49 AM   #9
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Not all the blooms were full of butterflies yesterday. The Bees Blossom has just recently come into bloom, but I haven't yet seen any pollinators on it!
And our state Wildflower - Passionflower - is still "decorating" the meadows with its amazing blooms.
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Old Aug 25, 2010, 7:51 AM   #10
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Recent rains and cooler weather have also been great for many new mushrooms sprouting...
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