Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors
 

Scattershooting

A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

August 15: Picture of the Day

August 15, 2010 at 09:43 PM

Of course today, with my camera on the front porch, the hummingbird moth that visited Saturday afternoon never returned.

But plenty of butterflies did. A monarch (including one that Henry release from our aquarium, with many more to come). A few swallowtails. And this little rascal, who was joined by several friends. This is a common buckeye. They all look rather unimpressive as they fly around—right up until they open their wings (as above). Problem is, they didn’t seem very eager to keep their wings spread. They liked being non-descript (as below). So getting the perfect shot just didn’t happen. In truth, this was the backup picture. I knew the hummingbird moth would return. But I was wrong.

Illinois hunting and fishing

A lot of people are very fond of the common buckeye, so maybe I shouldn’t treat this butterfly as a backup. Maybe Monday I’ll just set out to get a better picture of one. And then the hummingbird moth will surely arrive.

Here’s some information on common buckeyes from the Web site ButterfliesandMoths.org.

Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

Identification: Upperside is brown. Forewing with 2 orange cell bars and 2 eyespots; part of white subapical band appears in the largest, lower eyespot. Hindwing has 2 eyespots; upper one is largest and contains a magenta crescent. Underside of hindwing is brown or tan in the wet season (summer) form and rose-red in the dry season (fall) form.

Life history: Males perch during the day on low plants or bare ground to watch for females, flying periodically to patrol or to chase other flying insects. Females lay eggs singly on leaf buds or on upperside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars are solitary and eat leaves. Caterpillars and adults overwinter but only in the south.

Flight: Two to three broods from May-October, throughout the year in the Deep South.

Wing span: 1 5/8 - 2 3/4 inches (4.2 - 7 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Plants from the snapdragon family including snapdragon (Antirrhinum) and toadflax (Linaria); the plantain family including plantains (Plantago); and the acanthus family including ruellia (Ruellia nodiflora).

Adult food: Favorite nectar sources are composites including aster, chickory, gumweed, knapweed, and tickseed sunflower. Dogbane, peppermint, and other flowers are also visited.

Habitat: Open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground.

Range: Resident in the southern United States and north along the coasts to central California and North Carolina; south to Bermuda, Cuba, Isle of Pines, and southern Mexico. Adults from the south’s first brood migrate north in late spring and summer to temporarily colonize most of the United States and parts of southern Canada. Comments: The eyespots may be used to scare away predators.

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