Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Tigers

Another common butterfly in Southeast Asia is the Plain Tiger. It is also in the danaidae family. It was particularly abundant in the Taipei Botanical Gardens when I was there in the end of October. It was very interesting because the Gardens has large pictures of the Common Tiger of which I didn't see any and no pictures of the Plain Tiger which was very common. Unlike the Common Tiger (see prior entries into this Blog), there is no special marking on the veins on either the the top or under surface of the wings. In one part of the Gardens, the Plain Tigers were abundant and I found one lonely Milkweed. It had not yet bloomed and it only had 10 leaves. I was curious as to whether any of the butterflies had laid any eggs. While every leaf did not have an egg, others had two and one leaf even had 3 eggs. In all, I counted a total of 10 eggs on this one plant. I am sure that there had to be other Milkweed elsewhere in the Gardens but in the couple of hours that I had available, I didn't locate them (I was too busy taking pictures of the butterflies that I did see). I am sure that when all the caterpillars emerge, more than a few will be disappointed and hungry.

Paul A. Levine

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Common Tiger - upper surface

This is a continuation of the earlier blog on Monarchs and Common Tigers. This is the view of the upper surface. The dorsal surface of the Common Tiger has very heavy vein markings. This was consistent in all the butterflies that I saw.

Paul A. Levine

Monarchs and Common Tigers

I recently returned from a business trip to Thailand and Republic of China (Taiwan). For my two days in Bangkok, I had a total of about 4 hours in the middle of the day when I was not involved in meetings. On one of those days, I took myself to a local park. The temperature ws 90 degree Fahrenheit and the humidity was 90%. I really had expected to see a much larger variety of butterflies but I didn't. I saw Lemon and Peacock Pansy's, some whites that I have not yet identified and literally hundreds of Common Tigers. There was also a rare Plain Tiger but that will be another blog. These were the six legged variety, not the four legged variety. They were also not as frightening as the mammalian tigers and I was able to get up close to take some pictures. I was absolutely amazed at how close they are to our Monarchs and I am embedding pictures of both the top and undersides of the Common Tiger and the Monarch so that they can be compared.

I have a book on Indian Butterflies published in 1957 (by M.A. Wynter-Blythe) and he lists the scientific name for the Common Tiger as Danais Plexippus - this sounds very familiar. The two bottom pictures are of the Monarch and both were photographed in the Santa Clarita Valley, one on Buddlea in my back yard. The top picture is of the Common Tiger showing the undersurface. Apparently the Blog will only allow me to post three pictures. I will do another with the upper surface of the Common Tiger.

Paul A. Levine

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Monarchs return with Santa Anas

Ken Clark sent in this image (shot 10/21/06) from his amazing batch of fall monarchs - "his best year ever." Ken estimated 200-300 monarchs hatched in his yard in East San Fernando Valley near Hansen Dam. Also on the monarch front, Walt Sakai gave a very interesting update on our California monarchs at the October 2006 NABA-LA meeting in Santa Monica. Thank you Walt!
Steve Kutcher reports (Nov. 3, 2006) that monarchs are busy in his yard in Arcadia, he assumes because the Santa Ana winds are pushing them west to the coast. Today (Nov. 5) we had a female laying eggs in our yard in Sherman Oaks (right as I was trying to prune the raggedy milkweeds - so much for that now!). We released 63 monarchs in Sept/Oct, from 2 or 3 females that visited starting in late August. We also had a few lonely males that moved on, but not before they gorged on the Mexican Sunflowers!
(Update/January 2007: Monarchs started hatching in the New Year, and we have about 100 spread across three cages. Most nights the cages are brought inside. Some monarchs are hitching a ride to Ventura with a friend to be closer to their wintering grounds!)