Posts Tagged ‘Asclepias purpurascens’

Time series: Purple Milkweed (Parts 3, 4)

March 18, 2019

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) flowers were photographed on 06 and 10 June 2016 near a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Kevin Munroe, former park manager at Huntley Meadows, designated Purple Milkweed as a “plant of interest” due to the fact that it is officially a rare plant species in the state of Virginia (S2).

Part 3

These plants are covered with ants, lots of ants!

Later, a single Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) was feeding on the same milkweed plant, along with lots of ants.

Part 4

Lots of Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies (Speyeria cybele) were observed feeding on the milkweed. The next two photos show the same individual in two poses.

The proboscis, a specialized structure that enables butterflies to siphon liquids from flowers, is shown clearly in the next two photos.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) was feeding on another cluster of milkweed flowers. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the State Insect of Virginia. Really, who knew there are official state insects?

The last photo is my favorite in both galleries.

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Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Time series: Purple Milkweed (Part 2)

March 15, 2019

The following Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) flower was photographed on 01 June 2016 near a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The milkweed is covered by a cornucopia of insects including ants (one ant can be seen in the full-size version of the first photo), what I think is some type of weevil (the darker insects featuring a curved proboscis that reminds me of an elephant trunk), a cool looking metallic gold-green bee, and what I think is a species of Crane Fly.

As it turns out, my tentative identification of the Crane Fly is incorrect.

The crane fly is actually a [species of] Stilt Bug [from the Family Berytidae]. I can tell by the clubbed antennae and distally enlarged femora. Source Credit: Natalie Hernandez, member of the BugGuide Facebook group.

The gold-green bee is shown more clearly in the full-size version of the following photo. Masumi Palhof, another member of the BugGuide Facebook group, thinks the bee might be a Silky Striped-Sweat bee (Agapostemon sericeus).

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Post Update

The weevil is in the subfamily Baridinae (commonly known as “flower weevils”), maybe Odontocorynus umbellae or O. salebrosus. Source Credit: Ted C. MacRae, Senior Entomologist & Science Fellow. Beetles In The Bush [blog].

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Time series: Purple Milkweed (Part 1)

March 13, 2019

During a two-week period in late-May/early-June 2016, I followed a cohort of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) that emerged from a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) plants were growing in the fields near the same vernal pool. This blog post is the first of a four-part time series featuring photos of the milkweed, taken during some of my visits to the site in search of Slender Spreadwing.

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Post Update

Look closely at the full-size version of the first photo. Notice the small black insects on the milkweed flowers.

Ants are notorious for stealing nectar and love all kinds of Milkweeds… Source Credit: Alonso Abugattas Jr, Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, Virginia USA. Alonso is also the creator and administrator of the Capital Naturalist Facebook group, where I requested help with identification of the unknown insects on the milkweed.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Lessons Learned: Shutter speed too slow

February 5, 2013

The following photo shows a Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is feeding on Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens). The flower is acceptably in focus; the butterfly is not. This indicates the blurry butterfly wasn’t caused by camera shake. In this case, the shutter speed was too slow to stop action as the butterfly took flight.

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Tech Tips: I shot the photo using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera in Program Mode with a focal length of 108mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent) for a subject distance of approximately four- to six feet. The camera selected the following settings automatically: ISO 100; an aperture of f/5.2; and a shutter speed of 1/250 second. I should have used “Program Shift” to select a combination of a faster shutter speed and appropriate aperture. I could have selected a higher ISO in order to enable me to use a faster shutter speed. (Experience has shown an ISO of up to 400 may be used without causing unacceptable noise levels.)

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

May 23, 2012

Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies (Speyeria cybele) spotted during two photowalks through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. These individuals are feeding on Purple Milkweed flowers (Asclepias purpurascens). See also “Purple Milkweed,” formerly posted on my Posterous photoblog.

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Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Purple Milkweed

August 11, 2011
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Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) growing in the meadow east of the observation tower at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Kevin Munroe, park manager at Huntley Meadows, designated Purple Milkweed as a “plant of interest” due to the fact that it is officially a rare plant species in the state of Virginia (S2) [see p. 10].

Purple Milkweed plants flower from May to June in the mid-Atlantic region. Milkweed is a host plant for several types of insects, including the Monarch Butterfly.


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