Red-banded Hairstreak

Wednesday, August 12, 2020,

I went to Avalon Nature Preserve in Stony Brook last Monday. Not that I ever need a reason to visit Avalon, but I was hoping for some butterflies and maybe a bird or two. I failed on the birds, and most of the butterflies as well. However, I did have some luck with one very small butterfly. It is indeed tiny, maybe only about the size of my thumbnail. I was lucky to have spotted it at all.

This is one very cool butterfly. It’s called a Red-banded Hairstreak. Many species of butterflies have false eyespots on their wings. Most scientists believe that these eyespots serve one of two different purposes. Some use these eyespots to intimidate possible predators. A large eyespot implies a larger animal, one that may be too big for that predator. Other butterflies use their eyespots as a form of misdirection. An eyespot towards the rear of the butterfly may help convince a predator to strike at a less vulnerable place than the butterfly’s head, which would be most unfortunate indeed.

The Red-banded Hairstreak uses the second method, but it ups its game a bit. Its wings form a “face” of sorts that is only seen from directly behind the butterfly. But the trickery doesn’t end there. This butterfly has another ace up its sleeve, or, well, wing. By rubbing its hindwings up and down against each other it causes the two little tails to undulate in a manner that mimics moving antennae quite effectively. Even in a still photograph, you can see how realistic those two fake antennae appear. Now, imagine those two antennae moving in a probing motion like true antennas. It’s a very convincing trick and helps this tiny butterfly escape the local thugs.
And need I mention how beautiful this butterfly is?  JK


The Monarch and the Mantis: A Poem for Halloween

Thursday, October 31, 2019,

Orange and black are the colors of Halloween, right? Well, one of the protagonists in this post wears those very colors. I warn you, these are less than pleasant photographs. But isn’t Halloween all about being scared? And to make it scarier still, I’ve added a poem that’s sure to bring a groan.

The Monarch and the Mantis

The Monarch, she’s a beauty
An altogether cutie
Happy is the hour
When she lights upon a flower

The Mantis is a mean one
A nasty long and lean one
He’s gruesome and he’s toothsome
He’s altogether Ooh!-some

They both live in the fields
Where both come in for meals
Everyone needs to eat
And we all enjoy a treat

The Monarch she seeks nectar
The Mantis is like Lecter
That Hannibal was a cannibal
And the Mantis is no better

One day the Mantis sees the Lady
But she’s not enough afraidy
The Mantis makes a meal
Of a beauty oh so real

What good was it to be here?
I was all too late to free her
At least I got the pics
As the Mantis got his kicks

If there’s a lesson to be learned
It’s that this poet should be spurned
This poem is just awful
And that should be unlawful



A Molting Carolina Wren

Monday, September 16, 2019,

This perhaps not-so-spectacular diminutive bird is a molting Carolina Wren. Now, in most circumstances, this feisty little bird would appear to be quite beautiful. And, actually, this guy is still a looker, just so long as you don’t look too closely. And, as evidenced in the photo below, this guy is still convinced that he’s Prom King material. Despite his ragged looks, he is still singing his song. JK