An early spring surprise

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I was cleaning up an old woodpile out back and found of all things, a
butterfly! I thought it was dead, picked it up and it slowly moved. Yikes. I
gently replaced it. I think it was a mourning cloak, which fly very early.
BTW, the Washington Butterfly Association meeting this week was a fabulous
presentation on symbiosis between ants and butterflies. To summarize, the
group of butterflies that includes the coppers and blues can mimic ant
pheromones. Actually they do this in the larval stage and they also have a
nectar gland which feeds the ants a drop of sugar/enzyme solution. Slowly.
The butterfly larvae does this to enlist the ants in protecting them from
being parasitized by wasps and flies. All kinds of interesting twists on
this, and it happens even with some of the local species. It was a cool
program, and this group has interesting meetings. They do a Species of the
month, which is an indepth photo essay and identification, life history of a
butterfly. Their field trips are numerous as well. I joined.  Also there is
a bug group called Scarabs, that meets the fourth Monday of the month in the
back of the Burke Museum.

Bugs are cool

Rob Sandelin
Sky Valley Environments  <>
Field skills training for student naturalists

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