BUTTERFLIES ARE WONDERFUL; TOADS ARE TERRIFIC!!

I am still on a butterfly high after last week's spotting of the first Monarch. Here is another one you may see flying and flashing its black and white wings. It is a White Admiral. I found this one in a parking lot where presumably it dropped off someone's car grill after a crash landing. It had no life, so I picked it up for a closer look. The other colors of its wings became apparent - the blue edging and orange spots showed up. I turned the butterfly over and it could have passed for another specie since the colors were quite different on the underside. Beneath the wings you have the same white stripe, but more orange; and the black is replaced with brown. All of these colors are made by a combination of scales, and in this case seem to sort themselves out to create two very different "looks" to the butterfly. The Painted Lady is another butterfly with vastly different tops and bottoms for its wings.

I continue to see Monarchs, but have not detected any eggs or growing caterpillars. The weather we have been having is "butterfly weather"! A friend pointed out recently that these insects are "light sensitive". When the weather is rainy or overcast (or it is nighttime), they lay low. When the sun comes out, it is a different story. They will take flight and resume all butterfly activities.

On our Pond Dip outing, we hit the jackpot! As we walked along the edge of the pond, tiny frogs hopped to escape being treaded upon. At first I thought they were Spring Peepers since they were so small. But as I scanned their bodies for the distinctive "X" on their backs (typical of Peepers), I thought these are different. They were spotted and some had the characteristic glands behind the ears that Toads have. These were Toad babies! They had just taken the big jump from an aquatic habitat to using their lungs and becoming landlubbers! They were so cute and numerous.
Can you imagine the "courage" it must take for these animals to make the aquatic exit and become air breathing creatures? They will return to the pond in the spring for the time honored ritual of seeking mates and egg-laying. The eggs come out in ribbons of black eggs. Tadpoles emerge from the eggs and grow progressively like frogs - first to have forelegs, then hind legs, and finally to absorb their tales.

We also found a large larva of a Predacious Diving Beetle. Like the adult, this aquatic insect went after the smaller newts and tadpoles we had in our bucket of catches. Even the toads might have been fair game, but we kept them separated. And yes, we did find an adult Green Frog that was nearly 4 inches long, not including legs!

Butterflies and Toads - what a combination! Who knows what will be in the mix for the first week of August?

8/2/03 Amphibious Ronnie.