Friday, September 28, 2018

Orangey Encounter--Monarch Butterfly


During a neighborhood walk, we spotted a flitting butterfly. I know better than to try capturing a still image of a moving object. I recorded it, played with the video, and uploaded a ~1 minute video to YouTube. I decided to create a longer video to accompany this article, which also includes a half-speed clip so that the wing movement is easier to follow.

For way slower motion, especially for taking off and landing, view "Butterfly Flying in Slow Motion". (I noticed those flower batches resembled the ones in my video.)

Monarch Butterfly Lookalikes

After I had viewed my original video, I thought about past times I'd read about possible lookalikes to monarchs. I did not want to incorrectly ID my butterfly.
  • Viceroy butterflies closely resemble monarch butterflies. "Monarch or Viceroy?" contains good basic info site with contrasting pictures and content.
  • "Butterfly Look-Alikes: Monarch, Queen, Soldier and Viceroy" describes butterflies that resemble monarchs (in addition to viceroys). The 2x2 grid of the four butterflies makes for excellent visual contrast.
  • "Distinguishing Queens, Monarchs, and Others" goes into more details about differences between mostly monarchs and queens. The site also mentions wing butterfly terms.
    The four areas typically described are upperside, seen when the wings are opened; underside, or “side view” when the wings are upright; forewings (upper pair); and hindwings (lower pair).
Orange Moths that Look Like Monarch Butterflies?
Not even close. I thought I'd do a Google image search for orange moths. BTW, a huge difference in looks between butterflies and moths is the antennae. Butterflies' are rod-like, sometimes with a small "bulb" at the end. Moths' look feathery. Visit "Leggy Bugs—Caterpillars (Lepidopteran Larvae, which Become Butterflies and Moths)" for more information and resources.

Want to visually contrast orangey moths with monarch butterflies? Open Google image results for "monarch butterflies" and tile it next to Google image results for "orange moths".

A Few Monarch Butterfly Resources, for Beginner Level to More Advanced

The following sites are a sampling of resources. Google "monarch butterflies" for loads more. (Also revisit my section about monarch butterfly lookalikes.)
  • KidZone's "The Monarch Butterfly" is a good elementary site about monarch butterflies. It also describes the butterfly's toxic protection from predators, and that a lookalike—viceroy butterfly—resembles the monarch. A side-by-side image comparison and text points out the main between the viceroy and the monarch. The viceroy has a black stripe across its bottom wings that the monarch doesn't.
  • "The King of Butterflies – The Monarch Butterfly" emphasizes the life cycle, which takes four generations to complete: "Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year."
  • NatureWorks "Monarch Butterfly - Danaus plexippus" is a well-laid-out site for sections, descriptions, and accompanying images. Sections: Characteristics, Range, Habitat, Diet, Life Cycle, and Behavior.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Orangey Encounter--Pride of Barbados


During a recent walk on an overcast day, I spotted some fiery flowers on commercial property. I requested ID help on LinkedIn, and received info in about an hour. A couple of days later, I went back to get another still pic. As the wind picked up, I decided to video-record.

Reviewing the clip later, I saw bean pods that resembled Chinese snow peas. Curious about possible harvesting and edibility of the pods, I searched online for info. Eventually, I wrote to a resource, who replied quickly. The beans are poisonous. I'd infer the pods would be also.

The reply nudged me to seek the exact text on the web, which was in “Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima”:
The flowers are followed by the seedpods, which are 'beans' several inches long. The seeds contain gallic and tannic acid and are poisonous. … It is reported that people in central Africa eat the seeds after boiling them in several changes of water to remove the tannic acid.
This site shows nice images of the plant and flowers, young and more mature leaves, and seed pods and seeds. Note the resemblance of the green seed pod to a Chinese snow pea.

My pixstrip shows contrast in the flower cluster and sky for September 3 and 5. I was fortunate to not get rained on. The third image shows mature seed pods near a flower cluster. (I have also interspersed these images into my YouTube video.)

"The Pride-Of-Barbados Becomes The Pride-Of-Texas!" describes this plant extensively and has images for clicking to enlarge. The upper right image provides an eyeful of clusters, leaves, and seed pods. An appealing bit of info is “As if the flowers were not showy enough on their own, nature has made them attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies which add movement and excitement to the summer spectacle.”

Note: In case you have a plant question, write to “Ask the Answer Man”. (Having wanted to ask about snow peas and seed pods, I had navigated to the page from “The Pride-Of-Barbados Becomes The Pride-Of-Texas!”.)

"Pride of Barbados, (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) Lisa's Landscape & Design "Plant Pick of the Day" provides an enthusiastic introduction to the plant. The butterfly is eye-catching. In addition, she also pans across the area, which shows a goodly amount of snow-peas-like seed pods.

Trees of St Lucia | Pride of Barbados” is a compact info site that includes rudimentary info. Among pictures, images of seed pods show that they resemble snow peas.
For more extensive (and adoring!) information, visit "In Praise of Prides of Barbados".
This member of the pea family (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is one of the showiest of the landscape perennials in central Texas. … Native to the West Indies, it is also known as dwarf poinciana. … The flower clusters are orangey-red with yellow edges, approximately 8 to 10 inches across.Each cluster has crinkled petals 2 to 3 inches across. In addition the flowers produce bright red stamens that extend beyond each flower.
With seemingly additional boosting about the plant, caring for it doesn’t sound too difficult.
The main requirement for ‘prides’ is sun. Plant them in full to part sun, and they will flourish. They aren’t too fussy about soil, and will be equally happy whether it’s acid or alkaline soil. Another important requirement is good drainage. They have shown a great tolerance for drought-like conditions … they produce bean pods. By fall, the seed can be harvested for planting in the spring.
Beautiful Pride of Barbados” is another site with glowing text and images.
The colors of this beautiful plant are remarkable — the blossoms consists of a combination of reds, yellows, and oranges, and the leaves are some of the coolest I’ve ever seen. … I grow my Pride of Barbados both in pots and in the ground. They do very well either way. They are somewhat drought resistant, …
Want to grow your own from seed? “Pride of Barbados - Knowledgebase Question” describes the process, following text that the seed pods (“look a little like flattened pea pods”). "Propogating [sic] The Pride of Barbados" is more of a quick narration about the seed pods. Though a a bit short on details, viewing the speaker, plant, seed pod batches, and leaves puts the plant part sizes in context.

"When to Harvest Snow Peas" shows actual snow peas, which are edible. Visually compare these pods to ones in other videos and images to see their similarities. Remember though, Pride of Barbados seed pods are not safe to eat without treating them.

September 26, 2018 update—Composites

To view more details of the three close-in images of the September 25 composite, click here, here, and here.
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