Look what the wind blew in

Today is day 2 of strong winds from the south. I went back behind the garage (sheltered from the wind) to see how things were going in the butterfly garden. To my dismay I found a rabbit had eaten of my fledgling Leadplant and Illinois Bundleflower plants down to the ground. As I sat there and fumed and thought dark thoughts and plotted my revenge I noticed there was quite a bit of butterfly activity on the Walker’s Low Catmint (Nepeta racemosa). So temporarily dropping my dark thoughts I wandered out to take a look. There were two blues on the mint. The first was the expected Eastern-tailed Blue but the second was a Reakirt’s Blue (Echinargus isola). Then a big fresh skipper flew in which turned out to be a Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) male. Both species are found in Nebraska on a regular basis but neither can overwinter here. So they repopulate (and likely breed in) the state annually from regions to our south.

Reakirts Blue – Echinargus isola

This little blue butterfly is found statewide but the frequency with which it is encountered varies greatly from year to year. They are probably under-reported as they may be passed over as being Eastern-tailed Blues. Larvae feed on a wide variety of common legumes including vetches, clovers and alfalfa. Adults have been found from mid May to mid October.

Sachem – Atalopedes campestris

This southern species is a regular visitor to the state where by the end of summer it is often abundant. The species is indistinctly marked ventrally (on the underside) but males are easily identified by the large black stigma on the dorsal (upper) forewing (top wing). Larvae feed on a wide variety of grasses. There are records for the skipper from early May to late November.

So while still plotting revenge on the rabbit (yes, I should have protected the plants) I was somewhat placated by finding a couple more “Big Year” butterflies, the species count for which now stands at 48.

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