Saturday, July 1, 2017

Coontie Hairstreak (aka Eumaeus atala) at the Environmental Learning Center

I had the pleasure of joining Heather for a walk at the ELC this morning. Saw the most amazing thing. They have a zillion Coontie Hairstreak butterflies breeding there, and I was able to take pictures of them in many stages of development. I also took a few pix of the other cool stuff there. Click the pictures to view full size. Enjoy!

Make sure that you click to enlarge this one.
These are some eggs of the Atala butterfly. Note the little hairs. Those are from the mom's anal tufts - she leaves behind the hairs to warn predators not to eat the eggs.
This is a caterpillar. Note the bite marks around the edge of the leaf. Coontie is the favorite plant of the Atala, hence the common name "Coontie Hairstreak"
Notice the slightly translucent look and the lack of spots on the head. This caterpillar is the pre-pupa stage.
Now notice a caterpillar that has attached itself to  a leaf and is mostly a pupa now.
You can still see some spots from when he was a caterpillar here, but he is starting to look more chrysalis-like now.
Notice here that the spots are almost gone now.
Many of these chrysalises are in different stages.
You can see the start of the butterfly here on the left.
Here you can see the wing starting to emerge from the lower chrysalis.
There are few different stages shown here. In the center, the butterfly has almost fully emerged. Butterflies have already left the more brown chrysalises. The one on the far right is just starting to emerge.
A chrysalis that has been recently vacated.
A bunch of butterflies hanging around with different stage chrysalises.
One Atala fully emerged.
Two just hanging around.

I'm not entirely sure what the little orange droplets are behind this one. Maybe he just peed?
A beautiful example of a Coontie Hairstreak.
Miss Heather with an adult Coontie Hairstreak.
As always, there is so much to see at the Environmental Learning Center. Here is an adult Golden Orb Weaver (aka "Golden Silk Spider" - there are a lot of common names for this one.) Notice her boyfriend just to the left of her back leg. The large dark spots are dinner, and the small sliver dots are her young'un.
I have no idea what species this is but it was TOO cool. He had just molted his exoskeleton when we walked by (the exoskeleton is the smaller white thing with black legs.) The shape resembles an Assassin bug, but those are usually red.
The Indian River Lagoon from the ELC dock.
A Green Anole on the ELC dock.
The mangroves, doing a great job protecting both the lagoon critters and the shoreline.
Gaillardia. I love the variation of color in them.
An all yellow Gaillardia.
A more typical orange-pink-yellow Gaillardia.
A more pink-pale yellow Gaillardia.

As always, a wonderful day out at the ELC. Make sure you stop by, it is a great time of year, especially if you love butterflies!

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