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Butterflies through Binoculars


Fri, Aug 31st, 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, Aug 31st, 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 Blandingís Turtle Research Project can at last step back to enjoy a m ..... 
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Questions from the Neighborhood

Fri, Aug 31st, 2001
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Virginia CooperMonday, September 3, 2001

How do I tell when eggplant is ripe? According to Charles Nissley's Pocket Book of Gardening: 'The eggplant must be used while it is still highly glossy on the outside. As soon as the outside begins to ..... 
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Dry Spell

Fri, Aug 31st, 2001
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Monday, August 27, 2001


This has been one hot dry summer. Over the last ten weeks we have received less than two inches of rain. I donít know if that qualifies us for a drought, but it certainly is a wicked dry spell. Even with the satura ..... 
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A Journey West

Fri, Aug 31st, 2001
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Monday, September 3, 2001

June 1975

The northwest wind, gusting to 30 miles an hour, brought tears to my eyes as I concentrated on the road ahead. Huge cumulus clouds drifted across the blue skyline, playing tag with the sun. We drove ..... 
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