Start of Summer Bugs

I spent today poking around a few areas mostly in northern Middlesex county, mostly looking for bugs. Some highlights below:

Morning Snack

Lancet Clubtail with Slender Spreadwing snack


Presumed Laphria sp Robber Fly, also with snack.


Elegant Spreadwing


Common Buckeye (1 of 4!)


Brook Snaketail, the main highlight of the day, waiting for confirmation on some of the details but likely the northeasternmost for Mass. Also thought that spot should have a snaketail. Update: confirmed as first for the Merrimack watershed in MA.


Moustached Clubtail


Why it’s named

Also American Kestrel and a chickadee nest I could peer into, a very nice day.


Bugs of the Year 2010

And to follow up the birds of the year, some insects.

21 new odes, only 1 in Mass.

Runners up: Pygmy and Extra-striped Snaketail, Superb Jewelwing, Umber and Stygian Shadowdragon (DSA writeup still coming)

Best: Spatterdock Darner

10 new butterflies, 1 in Mass

Runners up: Mestra, Arctic Skipper, Pipevine Swallowtail

Best: Two-spotted Skipper

Barely looked for Tiger Beetles and Asilids this year, will have to change that next year.

Bear Creek 8/1

I joined an insect survey at Bear Creek Sanctuary in Saugus yesterday. It was a bit dry for dragonflies but the butterflies weren’t too bad. Some highlights:


Nicely posed Common Ringlet


Bug of the day: Common Buckeye

Wandering Glider

Wandering Glider, this may be the first one I’ve seen land. Didn’t get particularly close before it took off unfortunately.


Spot-winged Glider. Semi-posed shot, I had caught him to show the group the spots and he paused here after I let him go.

DSA time

I never got around to posting about the DSA Northeast Meeting from last July, but it’s time for the annual meeting. Here’s a couple videos that somehow star me from last year to give a taste.


(there’s 1:15 of not much happening in the second one before I pop up)

Would have been nicer if I wasn’t swinging and missing as much.

Thanks to Meena Haribal for posting these videos.


A few bugs from Myles Standish State Forest today while I’m sorting through pelagic photos (not too many good ones this year I’m afraid).

Carolina Saddlebags:

Carolina Saddlebags

He wouldn’t slow down enough to get a shot off, so I just caught him for a few seconds.

Atlantic Bluet (presumably) and Beetle:

Bluet and Beetle

Frosted Whiteface:

Frosted Whiteface

Martha’s Pennant:

Martha's Pennant

Skimming Bluet guarding:

Guarding Bluet

Guarding Bluet

They were mostly in tandem pairs. This one appeared to be ovipositing. The male appeared to drag the female headfirst into the water down to some aquatic plant before letting go. He then hovered above the plant and appeared to be guarding while she disappeared. I’m not sure if she’s visible in either photo (I did see her climbing along the plant before I starting taking photos but haven’t found her in either one yet). Both can be enlarged by clicking and then on All Sizes.

And one of 4 Black Ducks on the pond, I’m wondering if they could have bred there.


Saturday Gossamers

I didn’t get out birding this morning as I was busy fighting Verizon’s overzealous filters blocking all Massbird, but I eventually got out for the Mass Butterfly Club’s trip to Horn Pond Mountain.

Horn Pond Mountain’s a great place to explore but with the recent two weeks of lousy weather it was on the quiet stuff. We did see most of the expected stuff but in low numbers. However, almost everything was spectacularly fresh, obviously having emerged in the last day or so at the earliest.

A couple highlights:

Basking Azure

Summer Azure basking with wings open (they almost never do so)


And no longer basking

Banded Hairstreak

This Banded Hairstreak was nearby

Edward's Hairstreak

And this Edward’s Hairstreak was stunning.

Late Weekend Bugs

Finally catching up with last weekend.

Saturday, I headed out to do my first concentrated odeing of the year. I started at the heron rookery in Littleton (which has dwindled quite a bit). Lots of bugs including many dragonflies (12+ species including FOY Chalk-fronted Corporal, Marsh Bluet, Sedge Sprite, and Eastern Pondhawk), a few butterflies, and assorted other things including 2 true bugs and my first Robber Flies of the year (photos of the last few aren’t good enough to show off).

The only cooperative ode was this pair of Aurora Damsels (actually many pairs were cooperative but this is the one I stopped to photo):

Tandem Aurora

After that, it was on to Fort Pond Brook. I headed for the stream, where I picked up my first River Jewelwings of the year. There were some clubtails buzzing up and down along with many baskettails, but I couldn’t get a swing off. Working back out to the path, I found a mating pair of Stream Cruisers that posed very nicely:

Cruiser Ring

And another Robbery Fly that didn’t photograph well. After restocking on tissues, I headed up the hill where there were lots of butterflies and dragonflies. Butterflies included my first Ringlets and Dusted Skippers of the year and dragonflies included many Lancet Clubtails and first of year Spangled Skimmers and Turquoise Bluets.

Things clouded up and started to look a bit threatening, so I decided not to check one last spot and headed home.

Sunday, I headed to Prospect Hill to check out a few birds. I was quite successful with that. Insect highlights included my first Twelve-spotted Skimmer of the year, an Eight-spotted Forester, and 16 species of butterfly including first of year Northern Cloudywing and Viceroy along with Dusted Skippers for the first time in a couple years on the hill and at least 4 American Ladies.





The birds will have to wait for another time…

June 9 Bugs

I took today off to do some atlas work at my block in Dunstable, so of course I have a pile of insect photos and almost no birds.

Salmon Brook was loaded with odes, including tons of Lancet Clubtails and tons of River Jewelwings.

River Jewelwing

Although those were good (first time I’ve seen them in numbers), the single Sparkling Jewelwing was better.

Sparkling Jewelwing

After mucking around there for an hour or so, getting soaked and coated in pollen in the process, I moved on to the pond in the center of town. Not much for birds, but more clubtails and a few darners flying around. I spent awhile working on getting a shot of one of the darners and didn’t really succeed.


Watching with binoculars, I think I got enough to say it’s a Cyrano Darner. It had big green stripes on the thorax, which would be either Cyrano or Swamp and I think they were too thick for Swamp. I also didn’t notice any rings on the abdomen, which should have been noticeable if it were a Swamp.

After giving up on that, I drove around a bit and finally found some conservation land way up on High St. almost at the New Hampshire border. Walking in, a spiketail immediately flew by. Fortunately, it landed. Unfortunately it was way high up and I could only see the lower side. I took a quick shot then tried to back up but it took off again and disappeared.


Not sure which one it is, although from the little I can make out, Twin-spotted seems most probable. 20081231: After going through every photo I could find, I believe it to be an Arrowhead Spiketail.

The area was quite interesting with a good variety of habitat. In an open area, I found another scutellaris Tiger Beetle.


Further on, this moth flew by. It appears to be one of the Chytolita species, but I don’t know which one yet.


On my way back, I heard a Pileated Woodpecker and had a couple American Ladies and Eastern Pine Elfins. Back at the spiketail spot, no luck finding that, but 2 young hawks were nice (now to figure out broad-wing versus red-shoulder and what that means for the atlas).


Back at the car, I cranked up the ac and sat for a couple minutes. Of course, not 10 seconds after I turned the car on did the spiketail buzz past. Oh well, back to Salmon Brook to chase some of the bugs around.

Back at Salmon Brook, I was quite surprised to find a Meadowhawk immediately. Seems rather early.


I mucked around for probably 45 minutes, not really finding much new. Lots of Turquoise Bluets with a few Stream thrown in and a few Violet Dancers as well. The jewelwings were putting on all sorts of displays hovering and flopping in the water. My first Viceroy of the year was good as well. Back at the car, I noticed a pair of mating tiger moths.

Mating Moths


Now to figure out which ones.

Considering the heat, not a bad day at all.

June 1st Bugs

Out and about today. The plan was to start at Dunback hoping for late migrants and then go look for odes and stuff. Turns out there weren’t any late migrants but the butterflies at Dunback were good, so the whole day was for bugs.

Starting at Dunback, lots of Pearl Crescents, a few Little Wood Satyrs, and a baskettail or two. Looking for birds, I did hear a cuckoo but never found it. Finally double-checked the songs just now and it’s a FOY Yellow-billed (which appears to be my first in Lexington(?!). Down to the left, Willow Flycatchers were calling, also new for the year. Otherwise, there wasn’t much.

Way down at Blossomcrest, I found a neat bee mimic. It appears to be Merodon equestris:


Back at the intersection, a small skipper attracted my attention. It was dark and didn’t ring any bells. Unfortunately, it would land and instantly spread its wings, so I never got a good look at the underside. I snapped a few photos and with those was able to ID it as a Pepper-and-salt (looks better with the -‘s to me). Interestingly, reviewing my pile of unknown skipper photos, I found another one from Dunback from 2005.




So I sort of did get a bit of underside there, but not quite.

After a stop at home, I headed out to the Littleton Rookery. I was hoping for similar results to last year, but no such luck. Along the tracks was very little. One sprite (probably Sedge but it got away), a few forktails, a few baskettails, and a Pine Elfin was about it. At the rookery, I enjoyed watching several nests for a couple minutes, noting how grown the young were. Turning my attention to the bugs, it started slow. A teneral whiteface popped up and then a Common Green Darner. The sun was going in and out, but once it came out for a few minutes, it picked up a bit. Lots of Four-spotted Skimmers, including several ovipositing, a few Dot-tailed Whitefaces, and a few damsels. One was a very teneral spreadwing, that I called Swamp on size. There were a couple female bluets, I’d guess Marsh but can’t say for sure. And one of the things I wanted, a tandem pair of Aurora Damsels. Just yesterday, Nick Donnelly posted a request for high quality pictures of pairs in order to understand how all the appendages fit together. High quality may not be what I got, but it’s a start (I did put the close-focus filter on but they flew off before I could work in closer).

Tandem Damsels

Heading back out, I started to check the wet spot on the opposite side of the tracks, but it clouded up. Back in the open, it looked really dark and potentially stormy, so I moved faster. Being cloudy, there wasn’t much out. Bluebirds at the car were nice. I sat around eating for a few minutes and it became clear that the clouds were moving through. I headed to Fort Pond Brook and decided to find the south entrance as that would take a little longer and get me further from the clouds.

It was pretty much clear by the time I arrived and bugs were back out. In the shaded section, lots of Ebony Jewelwings and a few Little Wood Satyrs were buzzing back and forth. Out in the open, I found my first Lancet Clubtails and a nice Tiger Beetle, which turned out to be Cicindela scutellaris lecontei, which I’d only seen once before.


Also in the area was an interesting moth. It appears to be in genus Drasteria but I haven’t gotten a firm ID yet. It’s clearly an underwing relative, whatever it is.



Still in the sandy section, I started seeing a few elfins. Once one finally landed, I could see it was a Frosted and not the Henry’s I had seen here last month. They turned out to be more distinct than the books made them look. With last weekend’s Hessel’s, 32 regulars to go or so.


In the more wooded area, the clubtails were all over, including several mating pairs.

Mating Lancets

Lots of other odes including many baskettails, a couple bluets that appear to be female Turquoise, several dancers (presuming Variable), and lots of Jewelwings including my first River of the year. Butterflies included a bunch of duskywings (all large, so assuming Juvenal’s), a Spicebush Swallowtail, and a couple Azures. And another Pepper-and-salt!

Pepper-and-salt #2

That one showed the underside nicely. All the way down by route 2, I didn’t find much and it started clouding up again so I started back instead of working my way along the brook. On the way up, I found my first Hobomok and Dusted Skippers of the year. Further on, I enjoyed a Mourning Cloak chasing a Spicebush Swallowtail, especially when the patrolling baskettail joined the chase. The open area wasn’t terribly exciting, although Brown Thrasher was nice.

I decided to make one more stop at the St. Anne’s Fields in Lincoln. Starting across the street, I spent a bit of time chasing Pearl Crescents trying to make them into something better. No luck with that, but a Snowberry Clearwing posed perfectly.


Crossing over to the St. Anne’s Fields, I found lots of Common Ringlets, more crescents, and not much else. A Cooper’s Hawk being chased off by 15 grackles was nice, especially after seeing similar with a Red-tail at Horn Pond last weekend. The sun was mostly in, so rather than push my luck, I headed home.

May Azures

In addition to all the other highlights at Met State, I had a bunch of Azures (Celastrina sp.). Most appeared to be the recently described Cherry Gall (C. serotina) but one looked a little different. The best part was one basking with its wings open, something they almost never do. I missed my first chance to get some shots and lost track of it as it flew down the path. Luckily, after photographing the questionable one, the other returned and again opened his wings, allowing me several shots!

Here’s a couple shots of that guy:




Open-winged Azure

And the odd one:


Note that the wing is slightly damaged, so you can see a bit of the upperside. Is this one a late ladon or another serotina? It seems a bit dirtier than the others.

As a reminder that you can click on any photo and then click the “All Sizes” button to get a slightly larger view.