Last year, Renee LaFontaine discovered a Harvester colony, originally discovered right where Mystic Lake meets the Mystic River in Medford, then later across the river in Arlington, and we spent a lot of time studying them. This year is shaping up to be good, too, and this page will chronicle our efforts.
On April 19, 2004, I discovered an extremely worn and barely alive Harvester on my unheated sunporch, the same location where I had raised them last year.
On June 15, Renee discovered a Harvester sitting on an elm leaf in essentially the identical location they regularly perched last year (Medford), but nothing after that for over a month.
July 16 Renee discovered this chrysalis, on the Arlington side of the river.
July 17 it had eclosed, and Renee saw a fresh Harvester perching nearby.
July 17, Renee discovered another Harvester - again on the same elf leaf. It continued to roost here daily, and I took a photo of the very worn butterfly on July 21 (Medford).
July 21, I was searching the area where the chrysalis was, and found three Harvesters bustling around. One lit briefly for a lousy photo (Arlington).
July 22, Renee called to say she had seen a Harvester in a new location on the Medford side. When I arrived it had disappeared, and the elm leaf "regular" was nowhere to be seen. We walked around a bit looking for more aphids, and when we returned to the elm leaf, here was a new Harvester, very fresh.
July 25, two caterpillars discovered on the Arlington side.
July 27, the caterpillars had returned to the aphids to chow down. These individuals weren't seen again, but note the yellowish coloring developing on the bumps on the back - this seems to be an indication of being close to pupating.
June 28, discovered another caterpillar, again note the yellow spots.
June 29, presumably the same individual as yesterday, just a few leaves away, settling into a lump to get ready to pupate.
July 30, still hasn't pupated, but it has to be close - it's getting paper, and note the shape has scrunched in to the right shape to pupate. In the past week Renee and I have seen single harvesters here and there, but no site loyalty as last year and earlier this year.
July 31. This is all that's left of the caterpillar. Obviously someone's lunch. So much for letting nature take its course - I'm collecting from now on.
August 2. Renee found this caterpillar about to pupate, so I collected it. In the same time we watched a Harvester ovipositing, so I collected the branch. I examined it really carefully, but was unable to find an egg anywhere (no surprise, that's the idea of hiding them in the aphids).
August 3, 7AM: Caterpillar newly pupated
August 3, 8:30AM: "Eyes" are starting to develop, and it is darkening overall.
August 3, 4:30PM: Face almost fully developed. I expect by tomorrow the overall color will darken slightly to the tannish color of the typical chrysalis. Renee has still been seeing anywhere between one and three Harvesters almost ever day, but today she saw four.
August 4, 8:30AM: Well, less change than I anticipated, although the chrysalis is more opaque.
August 10: I've been checking the alder branch regularly, but it's not easy when you don't want to disturb anything. Today I discovered a pupa and a caterpillar which had crawled out on a leaf, obviously getting ready to pupate.
August 13: My August 3 pupa has eclosed!
Renee helped me release it, but it took a while for it to decide it was time to fly off.
August 20: I left town for four days, and I was pretty sure the two August 10 pupae were ready to eclose, so I left them with Renee. Indeed, they were ready to go only hours after I left.
|April 19||Marj found worn but alive butterfly on unheated sunporch|
|June 15||Renee finds the first butterfly on the season, but none again until July 17|
|July 17||Renee finds a harvester on the elm leaf, with regular sightings of 3-4 a day starting July 21|
|August 3||Marj's caterpillar (A) pupates|
|August 5||Renee finds 7 butterflies|
|August 10||Marj finds pupa (C) and butterfly (B) about to pupate|
|August 13||Pupa (A) ecloses|
|August 19||Renee finds 13|
|August 20||Marj's (B) and (C) eclose|
|August 23||Renee finds 19|
|August 25||Renee and Marj find 26|
|September 24||Renee finds last butterfly of the season, plus 1 large caterpillar|