March 29, 2020

Bugs and butterflies prowl Audubon center

HOLDEN – Interesting insects are showing up at the Fields Pond Audubon Center on sunny October days – a mourning cloak butterfly, a monarch butterfly and a leaf-footed bug.

The mourning cloak’s cloak -its wings – are a velvety dark brown, trimmed with a yellow band all around. This butterfly is looking for a tree with its loose bark hanging off. The butterfly will hibernate under the bark, and come out again on a sunny April day, a wonderful sign of spring.

The monarch butterfly was sipping nectar from beautiful New England asters, which look like small daisies with purple petals and yellow centers. With a monarch in it, the garden full of New England asters is a colorful sight in October.

The monarch is on its way to Mexico. Leaving this late, it needs a lot of luck to get there in time – and with a lot of lipids, or oils, in its body to last through the winter.

The leaf-footed bug is an interesting and strange-looking insect. It was crawling on the Maine Audubon’s L. Robert Rolde Building near the front door and attracted some interest.

Nearly an inch long, it has an unusual leaflike expansion on its hindmost leg. It sometimes comes inside at this time of year, but so far, not in any numbers. That makes it a curiosity, not a problem.

A neighbor of the Audubon center reports that, when she brought her plants from the deck to indoors for the winter, a leaf-footed bug came in on the plants.

When she was asked if that was a problem, she said, “No, it spent the winter in my bathroom. I enjoyed watching it walk around slowly with a funny, high-stepping gait, moving each leg separately. When it was on the faucet, I just moved it aside. It was like having a little pet.”

Now that’s a nature lover.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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