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Butterflies through Binoculars


Fri, Sep 21st, 2001
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Monday, August 6, 2001

What creature flies; makes no sounds; does not bite, sting or carry disease; is bright orange with dark bands on its upperparts and silver spots below; and is common in meadows, fields and along roadsides in Fillmore County? The answer is a great spangled fritillary, one of many butterflies found in our area. Others with similarly fanciful names are tiger swallowtail, gray hairstreak, Aphrodite fritillary, pearl crescent, question mark, mourning cloak, painted lady, red admiral, tawny emperor, little wood satyr, wild indigo duskywing, clouded sulfur, and hackberry emperor.

Butterflies began to capture my attention late last summer on days when birds were sparse. They gave me something besides birds to watch for and identify. My interest grew after I bought Jeffrey Glassberg's "Butterflies through Binoculars; the East," Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, retail $18.95. Glassberg writes, "Who doesn't love butterflies? Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine" (page 1).

Just as bird enthusiasts used to identify song birds by shooting them and preserving their skins, butterfly enthusiasts netted, chloroformed and pinned butterflies to display boards. Butterflies through Binoculars is the first major field guide to focus on netless butterflying. Glassberg advocates the use of close-focusing binoculars that present a sharp image 6 feet away.

The book has an extensive introduction that includes such topics as how to find butterflies; butterfly biology, life cycle, and behavior; and butterfly gardening, photography and conservation.

The butterfly life cycle includes the egg, caterpillar, pupa (chrysalis) and adult. Adults live anywhere from a few weeks to eight months. Some species have more than one brood per season. Size (length of front wing) varies from less that 1/2 inch to almost 3 inches. A few behaviors to watch for include basking, hilltoppping and mudpuddling. Butterflies bask in the sun because they are cold-blooded and their body temperatures depend on the ambient temperatures. "Hilltops are the butterfly equivalent of singles bars . . . Here, the males patrol the area looking for females, or they select a favored perch and wait" (pages 14-15). Butterflies often congregate at mud puddles for the salt they get there as well as the water.

Butterfly gardens a .....
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Why Study Turtles Anyway?

Fri, Sep 21st, 2001
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Weaver Dunes Field Report Late Summer 2001By John LevellMonday, August 20, 2001

With nesting finally completed, those of us working on the Weaver Dunes Blanding’s Turtle Research Project can at last step back to enjoy a m ..... 
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A New Batch of Questions?

Fri, Sep 21st, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, September 24, 2001

By Virginia Cooper

Dear Virginia,
I'm overwhelmed with the produce. Do you have any shortcuts for putting up the produce (such as tomatoes) for the busy gardener?

Dear Busy Gardener, ..... 
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The Sky Was Empty

Fri, Sep 21st, 2001
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Monday, September 24, 2001

I was pretty sure when I got out of bed on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, that I was going to have a bad day. It was a day I had been dreading for weeks. Grumpy was hardly the word to describe my mood as I went about m ..... 
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A Walk in the Woods

Fri, Sep 21st, 2001
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Monday, September 17, 2001

The road is a narrow thin cut in the side of a hill near Whalan.

To the south, the land tilts steeply upward in heavy stands of hardwood forest, the ground cover a combination of spindly grass, forest underbr ..... 
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Fri, Sep 21st, 2001
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