Common ringlet spots

The common ringlet's lessons on species boundaries

Oct. 28, 2020

A minimum of 21 subspecies have been described, usually geographically separated but sometimes with geographic ranges sharing a border Butterflies flitted among flowers beside South Boulder Creek, in Boulder's greenbelt near the town of Marshall. Common ringlets, Coenonympha tullia , had caught my attention, and I was stalking one, trying...

Prickly Poppy Paid

Prickly poppies attract pollinators while deterring herbivores

Oct. 13, 2020

Prickly poppies are distinguished from other species in the genus Argemone by the lack of spines on the upper sides of leaves Prickly poppies, Argemone polyanthemos , were abundant and in full bloom along the Degge Trail in the greenbelt north Boulder. I enjoyed examining the blooms to see the...

Police car moth on sneezeweed

Police car moths have conspicuous color patterns and fly during the day

Aug. 17, 2020

Wielding all of these defenses, these moths have little to fear from birds or bats and they ignore photographers with impunity Triangular leaf senecio, Senecio triangularis , is common on the eastern slope of Cimarron Ridge in the San Juan Mountains, from 9,000 to over 10,000 feet. This year they...

Black swallowtails

Many roles of color patterns in black swallowtail butterflies

Aug. 4, 2020

The colors and patterns of black swallowtails reveal the diversity of evolutionary dynamics acting on the sexes and the various life-history stages

Larval ladybug

A ladybug's bright colors advertise toxic chemical defenses

July 21, 2020

Evolutionary biologists have noted that effective chemical defenses promote gregarious behavior During fall in the mountains, ladybugs migrate uphill, forming dense overwintering populations, defended by the alkaloids of thousands of insects." Virtually everyone can identify ladybugs and most are pleased to see the brightly colored beetles, while gardeners treasure them...

Firemoth blanketflower

Natural selection influences both wildflower and viral mutations

July 8, 2020

Mutations produce new genetic forms all the time, in all species, in all genes At this time of year, firemoths ( Schinia masoni ) can be seen on blanketflower ( Gaillardia aristata ), a colorful native wildflower. Evolution is the change of genetic forms in a population. We are watching...

Reakirt's blue caterpillars in an ancient mutualism with ants

Reakirt's blue caterpillars in an ancient mutualism with ants

June 9, 2020

Reakirt's blue, Echinargus isola, is one of ten species of blue butterflies in the Front Range Reakirt's blue butterflies were moving among the flower heads of white clover in my lawn. I presumed that they were nectaring, but I watched closely and discovered that they were ovipositing. They would fly...

Common Stork

Stork's bill seeds plant themselves

June 1, 2020

Common stork's bill or redstem filaree, Erodium circutarium, is flowering now on the plains and in the foothills. Its blooms are small, just 10 to 15 mm across, but such a striking shade of deep lavender that they catch the eye

red wing bird

Conflict and vigilance among red-winged blackbirds

May 13, 2020

The song spread is critically important in defense of a territory and the song is also evaluated by females as a facet of courting From the branch above me, a male red-winged blackbird took a deep breath, hunched up his shoulders, flared the feathers on his epaulets and let out...

Elm Leaf Beetle

Elm leaf beetles are just one of the introduced species that suppress American elms

April 29, 2020

Introductions, both accidental and purposeful, frequently have tragic consequences American elms, Ulmus americana , are native to North America from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia and from Texas to Florida. They grow 60 to 80 feet tall, with a thick trunk, the shape of a vase and a domed crown 40...