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Monarch and viceroy imbibe a buddleia. The viceroy is marked by a thin black mustache across the hind wings
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This unattractive pupa holds a beautiful red spotted purple butterfly.
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A tiger swallowtail and its larva in camouflage.
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Viceroy caterpillar (or larva) found by Lauren Griffith on Cape Cod.
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A tiger swallowtail gathers nectar from hawkweed at Stoney Ledge.
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A great spangled fritillary atop a milkweed flower.
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A banded red spotted purple.
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A tiger swallowtail atop a lily.
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A tiger swallowtail chrysalis.
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A red spotted purple.

Swallowtails and Purples Abound at Stoney Ledge

By Tor HanseniBerkshires columnist
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A monarch sips nectar from a lily. Its wings can brush against the flower's stamen and anthers, spreading its pollen to the next flower.
ADAMS, Mass. — The winding trail out to Stoney Ledge on the slopes of Mount Greylock is wide enough to allow sunlight to penetrate the high leafy canopy above, creating light gaps where wildflowers abound that attract assorted butterflies. 
 
The tiger swallowtail is the sole swallowtail here in late June through mid-July, and quite numerous, leading to a surprising estimate in the thousands for the whole Greylock mountain range and neighboring valleys. Swallowtails looping and fluttering through the green woodland in this great abundance compliments my vision of Emersonian halcyon grandeur, intact in not only Emerson's day but is thriving again here today!
 
Learning the assorted wildflowers as I walked the shady trail would later need a field guide for positive identification. The last of purple or white Trilliums grace the foot trail, and ragged robins in their showy pink deep fringe rock in a gentle zephyr. Closeup views detect a throng of tiny bees, beetles, flies, and wasps that appear to pollinate the flowering sources of the nectar they too imbibe. As one hikes the shady trails, passing a beckoning campground and hiking about one mile approaching Stoney Ledge, butterflies zoom out from roosting on a prominent leaf that may overreach the trail.
 
I am tempted to exchange the formerly excepted word "flutterflies" into our vernacular, since "flutterflies" does describe the way flutterflies fly, replacing or interchanging at leisure the bold genre in "butterflies," since butterflies do flutter about, to find nectar, or to look for a potential mate. 
 
This "hill topping" red-spotted purple will roost still on a leaf until another flutterfly flutters out to meet and perchance join in a joint spiral rising upwards to 40 feet in the azure sky; then they separate and float down leisurely to earth, as if in their determination to secure a mate, they describe the spiraling double helix in chromosomes themselves!
 
At trail's end a stupendous view opens to what remains of the original uncut old growth. A deep valley separates Stoney Ledge, a rocky outcrop with an abrupt rugged drop off from a steep slope across the valley, too inaccessible to loggers since pioneer days. This primary forest sports tall conifers like spruce and hemlock, and assorted deciduous hardwoods like ash, maples and beeches. Adjacent to the ledge is an assembly of birch trees, with exceptional configuration, likely a little stunted by exposure to winter's persistent windy cold. And yet a fullness pervades their wide outstretched multi-limbs. A touch of what we can call a micro-mountain biom, applies to temperate deciduous woodland in a certain ecosystem. Yes here is habitat for luna moths as well. The word sylvan translates as woodland edges, where meadow merges with woodlands. Sylvan fringe gives rise to small open meadows, adorned in wildflowers, offering nectar from hawkweeds and clover to swallowtails and speedster great spangled fritillary.
 
Two similar subspecies appear. They belong to the large family: Nymphalidae. Given to imbibing ground moisture and "puddling" for invested minerals, where standing water indicates a recent rain, flutterflies are drawn to the muddy puddles, where thirsty denizens alight on a moist soil and with the outstretched proboscis to probe the surface crust for salts imbedded in mineral-rich water. Perhaps this practice of puddling, in terms of evolutionary time, supersedes the imbibing of nectar found in flowering plants — the angiosperms. A few flutterflies are found in the fossil record that predates the rise of flowering plants.
 
Recalling the works of author Loren Eiseley, in his book "The Immense Journey," he touches on this very concept, that animals including arthropods, jointed legged invertebrates, the largest phyla, and here including flutterflies evolve up through geological time, undergoing extensive species radiation and diversifying in the Paleocene epoch, say 65 million years ago, coinciding with the rise of flowering plants. 
 
In conjunction with a co-evolution, or mutual interdependency of butterfly and wildflower, they engineer a symbiosis and survive in mutual adaptation as in insects and hummingbirds drawn to wildflowers. In exchange for nectar deep in the flower, a swallowtail may brush up against pollen-bearing structures (stamen & anther) that can bring about fertilization of the ovum deep in the flower, when brushing against the stigma, another female part of a flower. There is a miraculous spurt of growth to fertilization down female style to reach the ovary, indeed another wonder within the floral kingdom.
 
These subspecies are red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis Astyanax) and the banded purple (Limenitis arthems arthemis), also known as white admiral. Both are in the genus Limenitis and so is its sister species the viceroy (Limenitis archippus), strikingly different in wing scale coloration, but is actually very similar to our monarch, that is in a separate family Danaiidae as well as genus (Danaus plexippus). For a clear understanding of how these species are truly related, taxonomists compare Limenitis caterpillars of all three that are boldly similar and almost indistinguishable!
 
Surrounding the Stoney Ledge itself and the sudden defile are open weedy meadows sporting orange and yellow hawkweeds where swallowtails will alight to imbibe sugary nectar, arduously working the thin tubular proboscis to obtain scanty amounts of fructose and energy providing glucose within the blossom. Erratic in flight and zooming about is a fourth major species — the great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele), a fast streak of deep brownish orange
with black spangles. 
 
Like all fritillaries, their larvae require violets that here are plentiful along sylvan edges. They all risk everything to obtain fast energy, and some show torn wings likely signs of attack from birds, regardless of their warning colors of yellow-orange and black.
 
They search a long time in flight before alighting at a nectar source, making a photographers quest all the more enduring. So much of the photographer's fun is to follow their movements, finding a roosting fritillary, often imbibing at a flower, and holding still until another potential mate flies by. Be fast to close the shutter to get two butterflies in one picture. Different species do engage in momentary sweeping aerial acrobatics, but soon separate governed by their own species behavioral chemistry. 
 
Getting to know their patterns of mate selection and breeding biology helps for personal awareness and expands our role as stewards for protecting and procuring their sylvan realms.
 
Tor Hansen, a naturalist writer, photographer, and musician, is a recent addition to the North County community.

 


Tags: butterflies,   wildlife,   

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Adams Selectmen Hear From Ale House Owner

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff

Nate Girard explains his predicament to the Selectmen on Wednesday.
ADAMS, Mass. — Nate Girard and his longtime friend Erik Pizani decided to buy the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Hall in 2012. The property had a rich history in town and most people had memories of bowling, playing pitch, attending a wedding, or just sitting at an old red leather stool and enjoying a cheap beer.
 
The two partners, along with another investor, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing the structure up to code and restoring the bar and kitchen. The Adams Ale House was born. Both of them ran the restaurant, bought houses, had kids, went into real estate together, and celebrated the boom and even the bust times. 
 
Pizani eventually left the restaurant business and left Girard as the sole owner of the building. Girard decided to lease the restaurant space to focus solely on real estate and his young family. The new operators didn't last long in a tough restaurant market and went out of business in December 2018.
 
The building on East Hoosac Street has sat unused since then. Girard has it listed it on several sources and is still hopeful he can find a taker. The idle liquor license he still holds, however, has become an issue for the town.
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