Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Austin backyard nature, mainly skippers

Today I was enjoying a truly beautiful afternoon in my back yard in far southeast Austin, when I noticed a swarm of skippers around an autumn sage (Salvia Gregii). Skippers are small brown butterflies (well, not all of them are brown, but most are) who fold their wings in a weird way that makes it look like they have four wings instead of two. Which they do. All butterflies have four wings, in fact. But most butterfly wings are arranged so that it looks like the two wings on each side are one. Not so with skippers.

I took a bunch of pictures, most of which did not turn out, but I was able to identify these as the Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala).

This one's a little blurry (sorry) but notice the amazingly long tongue

More skipper tongue. Here you can see the wing folding habit

More wing folding

Broom snakeweed by my compost heap. Sunflower family. Snakeweed is generally considered a pest, a result of overgrazing, but my backyard has not been overgrazed since the goats left 10 years ago. So I don't know what's going on with this. This is the first year they have appeared. They do make low masses of tiny but pretty yellow flowers. And sorry, again, I could have taken a better photo.

The sparrows are back. The chipping sparrows seem to like the snakeweed. This one, disturbed in the snakeweed, flew up into a bumelia tree in the neighbor's yard.

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