Saturday, July 8, 2017

Crosswinds Marsh redux

I think sometime last year a friend told me of a couple of spots where he had found Painted Skimmers (Libellula semifasciata) at Crosswinds Marsh and described the habitat they seem to like in Michigan as wet meadows.  I tried for them on a cool, windy late afternoon earlier in June where I knew of a wet meadow - thanks to beaver activity - along the Blue Heron trail.  I didn't find them in June and I didn't find them on the 4th either.  But, it's a long walk and some other good things were found.

Above and below:  Acanthocephala terminalis, a large (2 cm) leaf-footed bug with distinctive orange-tipped antennae.  It is common in meadows and other sunny, weedy habitats.  Here's the UK Ag link for this and other leaf-footed bugs.

Above:  I'm way out of practice with my skipper identification.  I found this guy along the wet edges of the Blue Heron boardwalk trail and this is the only photo I was able to get.  I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that it may be Dukes Skipper (Euphyes dukesi).  This would be a good skipper find in southeast Michigan.  The pose of this skipper is not revealing.  I made my guess based upon details described in the *Kaufman guide.  My next best guess is Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator) - still good, but more common.  Corrections are welcome.

Addendum:  I emailed Roger Kuhlman my skipper photo and I asked if he was able to identify it.  Roger is the butterfly expert in southeast Michigan and his comments are as follows:  "The angle of view of your skipper is not the best, however I would venture your skipper is probably Dion Skipper.  Dukes Skipper cannot be ruled out either but Dukes probably has not emerged yet. Either possibility is a good sighting. Dukes Skipper is a State-threatened species that is known to breed at Crosswinds Marsh.  Dion Skipper is rather uncommon in the four SE Michigan county area."

As I was reading Roger's comment and reviewing both skippers in the Kaufman guide, I became curious about the spelling of Dukes. Kaufmann spells it Dukes's, Roger spelled it as Dukes and there are on-line sites that added Duke's to the list of spellings.  All three spellings are found on-line.  I don't know which is correct, or if it even matters since Euphyes dukesi is probably the most important, so I'll stick with Roger's Dukes.

Above, a honeybee nectaring on a swamp rose (Rosa palustris).

Above and below:  I found this beautiful caterpillar in the flooded meadow where I was looking unsuccessfully for Painted Skimmers.  It's a Cattail caterpillar and will grow up to be Henry's Marsh moth (Simyra insularis).  Here's the bug guide link.  It looked as if it could pack a sting and I was disappointed that this beautiful creature will metamorphose into an ordinary, white moth and that they are common.  Another good caterpillar link is Caterpillars of Ontario, Canada by Backyard Nature.

Above:  Male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).  I found many, all males, at Crosswinds Marsh on the 4th.

Above and two below:  In addition to the wet meadow, I checked these habitats for Painted Skimmers.

Leaving Crosswinds Marsh I came across the busy activity of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) feeding their not yet fledged young. In the photo below, there are three little heads just visible above the top.  They all ducked down when I walked below and pointed my camera up.

Beautiful swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) flower 

Still looking for Painted Skimmers, I drove across the road to the phase 2 area of Crosswinds Marsh located along Arkona Road across from the landfill.  I had never been here before.  Needless to say, no Painted Skimmers were found but I became acquainted with a new area that is well-worth future exploration.

* Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North American, Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman, Houghton Mifflin Company, © 2003 by Hillstar Editions L.C., pages 332-335.  

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