Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pink-spot Sulphur Data Needed

We are still looking for Pink-spot Sulphurs in Florida.  Andy Warren with the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville first identified Pink-spot Sulphurs as a resident butterfly in south Florida last year.  Subsequently, NABA members such as Hank Poor, Elane Nuehring, and many others, have been documenting Pink distribution and biology.   Hank recently discovered several areas in Key Largo for Pink-spot Sulphurs. 

Pink-spot Sulphurs are closely associated with the larval host plant, Lysiloma sabicu, an exotic tree used in urban landscaping in southern Florida.  Lysiloma sabicu is similar to the native False Tamarind Lysiloma latisiliquum, but the leaflets are fewer and larger and it has shredding bark on the trunk. 

Lysiloma sabicu leaves and fruit, Miami.
Lysiloma sabicu has shredding bark, Miami.

In southeastern Florida, the butterfly has been found at nearly every place the tree occurs.  Adult Pink-spot Sulphurs are very similar to the common Cloudless Sulphur, but are usually slightly smaller, shiny on the undersides, and there are tiny black dots at the ends of the veins along the margins of the hindwings.  In the females, the Pink-spot has a fairly straight line on the underside of the forewing between the spot in the cell and the outer margin.  This line is very jagged in the Cloudless Sulphur.

Please contact me if you have seen any Pink-spot Sulphurs or Lysiloma sabicu trees on the west coast of Florida.  The butterfly and tree are likely to occur in Naples and Fort Myers, northward to Tampa along the Gulf coast.

Female Pink-spot Sulphr from Miami Beach Botanical Garden.

Female Cloudless Sulphur from Minno yard, Gainesville, Florida.

Butterflies Observed in the Florida Keys: July 2012

I observed 41 species of butterflies in the Keys in July 2012.  Especially interesting finds were Pink-spot Sulphurs, Mimosa Yellows, Lyside Sulphurs, Florida Whites, Silver-banded Hairstreaks, Ruddy Daggerwings, and Cuban Crescents.  Ruddy Daggerwings had been long gone from the Keys until this year.  They are locally abundant on northern Key Largo.  Cuban Crescents and Mimosa Yellows also have not been found in the Keys for many years, but Elane, Hank Poor, and Susan Kolterman found several colonies on northern Key Largo.  Just recently I found a colony of Cuban Crescents on Plantation Key.  Florida Whites have nearly disappeared from Florida, but I have seen a few on Key Largo.  So far 2012 has been an especially rainy year in southern Florida which seems to have favored some butterflies.

Butterflies Observed in the Florida Keys in July 2012 by Marc C. Minno
Broad-winged Skippers (Hesperiidae: Eudaminae)
Mangrove Skipper (Phocides pigmalion okeechobee)
Hammock Skipper (Polygonus leo savigny)
Dorantes Skipper (Urbanus dorantes)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
Spreadwing Skippers (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)
Florida Duskywing (Ephyriades brunneus floridensis)
White Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus albescens)

Grass Skippers (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)
Monk Skipper (Asbolis capucinus)
Three-spotted Skipper (Cymaenes tripunctus)
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
Obscure Skipper (Panoquina panoquinoides)
Southern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia otho)

Three-Spotted Skipper Caterpillar on Guineagrass, found on Key Largo

Swallowtails (Papilionidae: Papilioninae)
Polydamas Swallowtail (Battus polydamas lucayus)
Giant Swallowtail (Heraclides cresphontes)

Last stage caterpillar of the Polydamas Swallowtail on Aristolochia gigantea in Key West.

Sulphurs (Pieridae: Coliadinae)
Pink-spot Sulphur (Aphrissa neleis)
Barred Yellow (Eurema daira daira)
Little Yellow (Eurema lisa)
Mimosa Yellow (Eurema nise)
Lyside Sulphur (Kricogonia lyside)
Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe maxima)
Orange-barred Sulphur (Phoebis philea)
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae eubule)

A female Mimosa Yellow visiting Scorpiontail on Key Largo.

A male of the Mimosa Yellow on Key Largo.

Whites (Pieridae: Pierinae)
Great Southern White (Ascia monuste phileta)
Florida White (Glutophrissa drusilla neumoegenii)

The Florida White was once common in the Keys but is now an imperiled butterfly.  I found this female on Key Largo.
Hairstreaks (Lycaenidae: Theclinae)
Silver-banded Hairstreak (Chlorostrymon simaethis)
Fulvous Hairstreak (Electrostrymon angelia)
Martial Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon martialis)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Blues (Lycaenidae: Polyommatinae)
Eastern Pygmy Blue (Brephidium isophthalma pseudofea)
Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus antibubastus)
Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius theonus)

Milkweed Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Danainae)
Soldier (Danaus eresimus tethys)
Queen (Danaus gilippus berenice)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Passionflower Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae nigrior)
Julia (Dryas iulia largo)
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia tuckerorum)

Admirals (Nymphalidae: Limenitidiniinae)
Ruddy Dagger Wing (Marpesia petreus)

Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Nymphalinae)
White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae guantanamo)
Cuban Crescent (Anthanassa frisia)
Mangrove Buckeye (Junonia evarete)
Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)

The Cuban Crescent has re-appeared in the Florida Keys.  This colony was on Plantation Key.

Here a a male Cuban Crescent on Plantation Key.

 Other interesting invertebrates seen:

This is the coolest beetle.  It is one of the Primitive Weevils (Brentidae), Brentis anchorago.  I found this one on Key Largo.
Here is a nice example of the Florida Keys Tree Snail (Orthalicus reses nesodryas) from Key  Largo.

Butterflies in the Minno Yard (Gainesville, FL): July 2012

We found 21 species of butterflies in our yard in Gainesville in July.  Most abundant were Horace’s Duskywings, Cassius Blues, and Gulf Fritillaries. The most frequently visited flower was Snow Squarestem (Melanthera nivea) (Asteraceae).  Interestingly Brazilian Skippers and Zebra Heliconians are back after several years of absence.

Broad-winged Skippers (Hesperiidae: Eudaminae)
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Spreadwing Skippers (Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)
Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus  (albescens?)

Grass Skippers (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)
Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius)
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Swallowtails (Papilionidae: Papilioninae)
Giant Swallowtail (Heraclides cresphontes)

Sulphurs (Pieridae: Coliadinae)
Barred Yellow (Eurema daira)
Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Hairstreaks (Lycaenidae: Theclinae)
White M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Blues (Lycaenidae: Polyommatinae)
Ceranus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)
Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

Milkweed Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Danainae)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Passionflower Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Heliconiinae)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae nigrior)
Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charitonius)

Snout Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Libytheinae)
American Snout (Libytheana bachmanii)

Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae: Nymphalinae)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Pink-spot Sulfur Butterfly

While looking through the collections at the Maguire Center, Andrew Warren found that some old specimens of what had been thought to be Aphrissa statira,  were actually Aphrissa neleis, the Pink-Spot Sulfur.  Since then, A.neleis has been seen around Homestead, Miami and Coconut Creek in Broward County.

Frank Model sent in a photo of a mating pair seen in the Miami Beach Botanical Garden on December 4th, which is a small garden surrounded by intense urban development.  On December 10th, I was visiting the gardens and saw several sulfur butterflies, some which looked like Orange Barred Sulfurs or perhaps Cloudless Sulfurs, but it was hard to tell.  I found some Sulfur butterfly eggs on a tree cassia.

The host plant of A. statira is coin vine, which is a coastal plant, although some A. statira are found inland near Homestead and certain places in South Florida.  I saved the eggs and when they hatched they turned out to be the right genus to be the Pink-spot Sulfur.  I thought there was a chance they could be A. neleis since a mating pair had been seen at the gardens the week before.  However, when the adults emerged they turned out to be A. statira!

These photos are of the A. statira butterflies that hatched from those eggs.
The Pink-spot Sulfur's host plant remains a mystery.  It's thought that it is using an exotic tropical tree called Cuban Lysiloma which is sometimes planted in landscapes.  One of them is planted in the Miami Beach Botanical garden.  Tree cassias are too cold sensitive to be planted further north, and it's unlikely to be using senna (the smaller cassia), as it is common in more northern places than the butterfly is found.

I will be speaking on the Pink-spot Sulfur at the Miami Blue Chapter quarterly meeting on May 6th, 2012 at Simpson Park in Miami.  The Program will begin at 1pm.

Simpson Park:
55 Southwest 17th Road  Miami, FL 33129-1501
(305) 856-2548