Planning for 2017

Once again, for 2017 I’ll be attempting to compile here a mid-Atlantic-wide calendar of counts, field trips, walks, and other lep-related field activities for the 2016 flight season.  Thanks a million to many of you for your past help, both in letting me know of counts or field trips you are planning or ones you know about.  Events in NJ, WV, PA, DE, MD, VA & NC are all welcome.

Please send me event info in roughly the format used below if you would.  You can use the comment form below or just email me at MDLepsOdes@gmail.com.

To refresh your memory or spur your planning, here’s last year’s (2016) list:

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APR 17  [LepTrek] MD: Allegany Co.  Foray to Green Ridge State Forest in search of Olympia Marble and other spring butterflies.  Silvery Blue, azures, elfins, Dreamy and Sleepy Duskywings, and others are possible on this field trip.  The early season brought these species out already on March 30, but weather has not been cooperating so we’re moving the date again to Sunday.  Limited to 10.  To register or receive updates:  CONTACT: Trip organizer Rick Borchelt, rborchelt |AT| gmail DOT com

APR 23 [ANS Field Trip] MD:  Boyds.  Audubon Naturalist Society organizes a field trip, Spring Butterflies of Hoyle’s Mill Conservation Park. Hoyle’s Mill Conservation Park in upper Montgomery County preserves the largest diabase bedrock habitat in Maryland, making it a rich area of both common and uncommon plants. These plants are caterpillar hosts and nectar resources for spring butterflies, such as the pipevine swallowtail and its more common cousins: falcate orangetip; olive hairstreak; Eastern comma; and several species of duskywing skippers. We’ll look for these species and their associated plant communities along a mostly flat dirt/gravel road in the Park on a walk of 2-3 miles.  10 am-3:30 pm, trip fee required (register at http://www.audubonnaturalist.org/index.php/nature-programs/adults).  Leaders Stephanie Mason and Dick Smith.  CONTACT:  Stephanie.Mason@anshome.org

[WEATHER CANCELLATION] MAY 6-7-8 [LepTrek] MD:  Garrett Co.  An expedition to look for West Virginia White, Cherry Gall Azure, Dusky Azure, Gray Comma, and other western MD specialties.  CONTACT: Trip organizer Rick Borchelt, rborchelt |AT| gmail DOT com

MAY 8 [ Field Trip, South Jersey Butterfly Project] NJ: Cape May Co, Lizard Tail Swamp. Will Kerling will be leading our group’s first field trip of 2016 — to one of his favorite stomping grounds:  Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve in Cape May County.  This will be a joint trip with our friends, the NABA North Jersey Butterfly Club. Frosted elfin is one target species, but if the weather cooperates, we should see a good number of other early May species.  Will has recorded 72 species for Lizard Tail, more than he has found for any other of the many Cape May County locales he has explored over the years.  Our start time is 10 am, Sunday, May 8.  Details about specific meeting spot and parking will be announced here, once they are worked out.Participation is free, of course.  Join us if you can!

MAY 14 [Butterfly Walk]    PA:  Delaware Co, Tinicum.  There will be a Butterfly Walk this Saturday as part of the John Heinz NWR at Tinicum’s International Migratory Bird Day Program. The walk will meet meet at 11 AM at the Visitors Center . This event is free and open to the public. For more information about this and other events during the IMBD celebration go to: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz/visit/upcomingevents.html CONTACT:  Cliff Hence, cwhenceiii@aol.com

MAY 15 [Butterfly Walk] MD:  Soldiers Delight, Owings Mills.  Serpentine Barrens Spring Butterflies. Dick Smith will present a brief slide show (handicap accessible) on barrens butterflies and then lead the group for about 2 miles along trails (not handicap accessible) through the globally rare serpentine barrens ecosystem at Soldiers Delight. We will search for locally-occurring and serpentine endemic mid-spring butterflies such as the small and attractively bark-scalloped Eastern Pine Elfin and the bluestem grass dependent Cobweb and Dusted Skippers. Additionally, we will examine and identify several of the native grasses and wildflowers seldom seen in abundance elsewhere around Maryland. Close-focus binoculars are recommended, but butterfly net-and-release (with in-jar identification) can be conducted by the leader on request. Educational and fun for kids and adults! Hike will be cancelled if raining or overcast, but slideshow will be presented regardless of weather status. For all ages; children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult. Meet at the Visitor’s Center. Registration required! (Soldiers Delight now limits hike attendance to 12 people to protect the fragile ecosystem along narrow trails.)  Cost: Free! Donations to Soldiers Delight NEA welcome. CONTACT:  Dick Smith at RichardSmith9070@verizon.net or call (410) 997-7439.

JUN 18 [NABA Count] VA: Sky Meadows State Park/Thompson WMA.  Contact:  Scott Baron, baron.scott@gmail.com

JUN 25 [NABA Count] MD:  Western Montgomery Co.  CONTACT:  Stephanie.Mason@anshome.org

JUN 25 [NABA Count] VA:  Maidens.  We usually leave from our house around 9 a.m.  CONTACT:  cphenly@comcast.net.

JUN 26 [NABA Count] MD: Carroll & Frederick Counties.  ACAS count in western Carroll and eastern Frederick counties.  Meet at 9:00 a.m. at the entrance to the Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary off Old Annapolis Road near Mt. Airy.  The count will cover this sanctuary and the Fred Archibald Sanctuary in New Market. The count will last until mid to late afternoon. Rain date July 2. CONTACT:  David Smith, lacsmith@comcast.net or 443-995-4108.

JUL 1 [NABA Count] VA:  Island Ford, Rockingham Co.  CONTACT:  Mike Smith, foresmiths@comcast.net; 540.742.3451 cell.

JUL 8 [NABA Count] VA:  Shenandoah National Park.  CONTACT:  Mike Smith, foresmiths@comcast.net; 540.742.3451 cell.

JUL 9 [NABA Count] VA: Bath County 23rd annual Butterfly Count. Meet at 10:00 AM at Hidden Valley B&B to start the count, which will run until approximately 6 PM. Please consider staying there (rooms are limited, book now!). If you can’t stay afield that long, no worries… you can either leave your results at the B&B or e-mail them. Please note that there are NO public restrooms at Hidden Valley B&B (the B&B is for guests only) – this is only our meeting place. A public Forest Service toilet is available a short distance away across the Jackson River from the B&B. The weather in Bath County can be tricky, be prepared for very warm temps when the sun is out, and afternoon storms are common in July. Cool, misty early mornings are the rule in mid-summer. Oh, and did I mention Diana Fritillaries should be seen? CONTACT: Frank Boyle at ravenfrank@earthlink.net

JUL 9 [Field Trip, South Jersey Butterfly Project] NJ:  Burlington Co, Medford Leas. 1 Medford Leas Dr., Medford, NJ; Sat. July 9th 9:45am.  There are a variety of habitats here, and we will walk around the community garden, and then go to the surrounding fields. Bring close-focus binoculars, water, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, & lunch. There is a Wawa on Rte. 70 if coming from the west, where you could pick up lunch.I recommend wearing long pants due to the possibility of ticks. Meet at the tennis courts’ parking area next to the horticultural building. Once you turn into Medford Leas Drive — a right jughandle at traffic light — stay to your left and at the t-intersection, turn right, and then take the immediate left. Continue around until you see the horticultural building with greenhouse and just past it turn left into the parking area.  The tennis courts will be straight ahead. For detailed directions from Rt. 295 and Rt. 70 visit the Medford Leas website: http://www.medfordleas.org/contact-us/location-and-directions  Trip is cancelled if it rains. CONTACT:  Chris Herz 856-534-5597 cell.

JUL 9 [NABA Count] PA:  Lancaster Co., Holtwood.  CONTACT: Fred Habegger, suissefred@yahoo.com

JUL 16  [NABA Count] DC: US National Arboretum & Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  Meet at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Arboretum Visitor Center near the R Street entrance. As one enters from R Street, the lot is to the left. Based on the number of participants, we may carpool from there to other locations, including Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The count will last until mid to late afternoon (the Arboretum closes at 5 p.m.), depending on heat and butterfly activity. Rain date Jul 17.  CONTACT:  Tom Stock, at altomomatic |AT| Verizon |DOT| net.

JUL 30 [Field Trip, Mengel Natural History Society] PA: Berks Co: Blue Marsh Lake.  Saturday 10:00 am. Butterfly identification walk at Blue Marsh.  We will view at a distance and for a good look we will capture some butterflies and put them in viewing jars so you can get a close look before releasing them. Meet at the Blue Marsh Visitor’s Center off of Palisades Drive. Joint walk with Baird Ornithological Club. The public is welcome. Free.  CONTACT:  Karl Gardner, 610-987-3281 or Ken Lebo, 610-856-1413.

JUL 30 [NABA Count] PA:  Lancaster and Lebanon Cos., Furnace Hills Conservation Area, Pennsylvania Highlands.  CONTACT: Fred Habegger, suissefred@yahoo.com

AUG 7 [NABA Count] VA: Airlie.  Sunday, August 7th from 8 am until 4 pm.  The morning begins at 8 am with registration, coffee and donuts at the Environmental Studies on the Piedmont (ES), 6712 Blantyre Road, Warrenton, Virginia. Bring your lunch and we will happily store refrigerated items at the farmhouse. Teams will move to the field by 9 am and return to the farmhouse at 12:30 for lunch. Afternoon surveys will resume from 1 pm until 4 pm. Team leaders should return data sheets to the field station at 4 pm.
Volunteers (experienced and novice) are needed. Please sign up for a whole day, or half day, of exploring the fields within our count circle. Sturdy shoes, sunscreen, hats, binoculars and cameras are recommended. Older children, with supervision, are welcome.
Novice butterfly counters are encouraged to attend our Butterfly Bootcamp, Saturday, August 6th from 2 – 5 pm. We’ll make a foray into the fields at ES and learn how to spot and identify various butterfly species. CONTACT and RSVP: sgarvin@envstudies.org for either event, would be greatly appreciated. Please indicate if you are available morning or afternoon or both for the count day.

AUG 27 [Field Trip, Mengel Natural History Society] PA: Berks Co: Angelica Park.  Saturday 10:00 am.  Butterfly identification walk at Angelica Park.  Take PA-10 south from Lancaster Avenue 1-1/4 miles. The park entrance road is on the right at the big masonry sign for Alvernia University. Turn right and park at the first parking area on the right. Joint walk with Baird Ornithological Club.  Bad weather will cancel (or reschedule). The public is welcome. Free. CONTACT: Karl Gardner 610-987-3281, Ken Lebo 610-856-1413, or Ryan Woolwine 610-777-2333.

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Toward a lep-social New Year!

Shawn Wainwright did a yeoman’s job of collecting and posting the links to most of the natural-history Facebook pages for the East, updated today on his Facebook timeline.  Here’s his compilation (and with our great thanks, Shawn!)

Butterflies of the eastern United States: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ButterfliesoftheeasternUnitedStates/

Created 9-15-12

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-15-13 – 447 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-15-14 – 3,566 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-15-15 – 5,550 members

As of the 4 year anniversary on 9-15-16 – 6,695 members

 

 

Moths of the eastern United States: www.facebook.com/#!/groups/MothsoftheeasternUS/

Created 9-18-12

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-18-13 – 324 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-18-14 – 1,910 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-18-15 – 3,059 members

As of the 4 year anniversary 0n 9-18-16 – 3,643 members

 

 

Birds of the eastern United States: www.facebook.com/#!/groups/BirdsoftheeasternUnitedStates/

Created 9-18-12

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-18-13 – 409 members

As of 6-30-14 – 10,000 members!

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-18-14 – 11,818 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-18-15 – 16,910 members

As of the 4 year anniversary on 9-18-16 – 19,062 members

 

 

Odonata of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OdonataoftheeasternUS/

Created 9-28-12

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-28-13 – 217 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-28-14 – 573 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-28-15 – 848 members

As of the 4 year anniversary on 9-28-16 – 1,156 members

 

 

Reptiles and Amphibians of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReptilesandAmphibiansoftheEasternUS/

Created 9-29-12

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-29-13 – 261 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-29-14 – 1,027 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-29-15 – 1,955 members

As of the 4 year anniversary on 9-29-16 – 2,398 members

 

 

Mammals of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MammalsoftheeasternUS/

Created 2-4-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 2-4-14 – 283 members

As of the 2nd year anniversary on 2-4-15 – 1,067 members

As of the 3rd year anniversary on 2-4-16 – 1,712 members

 

 

Weather of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WeatheroftheeasternUnitedStates/

Created 2-9-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 2-9-14 – 224 members

As of the 2nd year anniversary on 2-9-15 – 521 members

As of the 3rd year anniversary on 2-9-16 – 692 members

 

 

Flowers of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FloweringPlantsoftheeasternUS/

Created 2-15-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 2-15-14 – 403 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 2-15-15 – 2,571 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 2-15-16 – 3,725 members

 

 

Zoos and Aquariums of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ZoosandAquariumsoftheeasternUS/

Created 5-28-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 5-28-14 – 183 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 5-28-15 – 250 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 5-28-16 – 273 members

 

 

Bugs and Slugs of the eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bugsandslugsoftheeasternus/

Created 9-7-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-7-14 – 744 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-7-15 – 1,309 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-7-16 – 1,584 members

 

 

Mushrooms and Fungi of The Eastern United States: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MushroomsandFungioftheeasternUS/

Created 9-15-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 9-15-14 – 451 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 9-15-15 – 1,106 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 9-15-16 – 1,366 members

 

 

Birding in Ocean County New Jersey:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BirdingInOceanCountyNewJersey/

Created 12-10-13

As of the 1 year anniversary on 12-10-14 – 764 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 12-10-15 – 1262 members

As of the 3 year anniversary on 12-10-16 – 1586 members

 

 

Butterflies of Ocean County, New Jersey

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ButterfliesofOceanCounty/

Created 4-11-14

As of the 1 year anniversary on 4-11-15 – 120 members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 4-11-16 – 178 members

 

 

Native Flora of the eastern United States:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/NativeFloraoftheeasternUS/

Created 12-19-14

As of the 1 year anniversary on 12-19-15 – 396 Members

As of the 2 year anniversary on 12-19-16 – 1183 Members

 

 

Landscapes of the eastern United States:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/LandscapesOfTheEasternUS/

Created 2-13-15

As of the 1 year anniversary on 2-13-16 – 385 Members

 

 

Butterflies and Moths of the eastern United States

https://www.facebook.com/groups/CaterpillarsEasternUS/

Created 10-9-15

As of the 1 year anniversary on 10-9-16 – 373 Members

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Assistant Scientist, Lepidoptera – UF McGuire

Classification Title:

Assistant Scientist

Job Description:

The chosen applicant will work at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s McGuire Center in Gainesville, FL, USA. The selected applicant will need to be able to communicate well in verbal and written English and have the ability and desire to train students, prepare many tissue/extraction samples, and analyze genomic libraries for NGS, including insect transcriptomes and target capture approaches. The successful candidate will work closely to conduce research with a team of laboratory technicians, postdocs and students in the lab, along with US and international collaborators.

The FLMNH is also closely tied to the UF High-Performance Computing Center (HPC) and HiPerGator (www.rc.ufl.edu/resources/hardware/hipergator-2-0/), allowing for the chosen postdoc to utilize this rich computational resource. UF also has a state-of-the-art next-generation genome sequencing facility at the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR), the Florida State Collection of Arthropods (FSCA), and collections of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. The Kawahara Lab also has strong ties to UF’s the Department of Biology, Department of Entomology and Nematology, School of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and Department of Microbiology and Cell Science.

Advertised Salary:

Minimum salary $50,000.00, commensurate with education and experience.

Minimum Requirements:

A Ph.D. in molecular evolution, phylogenetics, genomics, systematics, or related field. Experience analyzing Next Generation Sequencing data, computer programming/scripting in Perl/Python or other language. Candidates with background experience in functional/comparative genomics, genome annotation, and/or phylogenomics will be highly considered. Postdoc experience highly recommended. An interest in insect evolution and some teaching/lab management experience is desired.

Special Instructions to Applicants:

To ensure full consideration please email the following to Akito Kawahara at kawahara@flmnh.ufl.edu by December 20, 2016: 1) your updated CV, 2) letters of references from 3 mentors, and 4) a cover letter describing your previous research and training, your qualifications for the position as detailed in this advertisement. Applications will be reviewed starting on January 3, 2017.

Specify in the email subject line: “Research Scientist KawaharaLab”

A lab website can be found at: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/mcguire/kawahara/

 

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Butterfly mother’s food choice for offspring changes with experience

An adult female Chilades pandava arches her abdomen to deposit an egg on a Cycas revoluta leaf. The larvae will emerge from the egg to feed on the expanding leaf tissue.
Credit: Thomas Marler
Date:
November 22, 2016
Source:
University of Guam

Plants communicate with animals using a blend of signals that influence animal behavior. The balance of plant attractants and deterrents partly determine the ultimate level of damage that an animal herbivore imposes on a plant. These intricate communications between the herbivore and the plant support sustainable relationships in their mutual native homelands. However, the ease of international travel in today’s connected world has led to invasive alien arthropod herbivores showing up in many novel locations containing alternative host plants.

Plants that are subjected to the attacks of alien herbivores often find themselves at a disadvantage, without the communication skills needed to constrain the herbivory below sustainable levels. Guam-based Thomas Marler, Thailand-based Anders Lindström, and Philippines-based Paris Marler recently studied these phenomena for the relationship between the butterfly Chilades pandava and several Cycas host species. The experimental results appeared in the August 2016 issue of the international journal Plant Signaling & Behavior.

The authors offered gravid female butterfly adults a choice between the expanding leaves of two Cycas species for each test. The test was conducted with a wild population of the butterfly that fed exclusively on its single host Cycas nongnoochiae. The choice was comprised of a Cycas species that exhibited minimal herbivory in a common garden setting versus a Cycas species that exhibited extreme damage by the butterfly larvae. Under these conditions, the adult females preferentially selected the leaves from Cycas species that are vulnerable to the larvae herbivory over the leaves from Cycas species that are less damaged. This preferential selection resulted in a greater number eggs being deposited on leaves of the vulnerable Cycas species.

Thinking that these clear results pointed to one of the means by which the butterfly causes more damage to the vulnerable Cycas species, the authors expanded the research to include three other butterfly populations. Populations from a botanic garden setting in Thailand, an urban setting in the Philippines, and the island of Guam provided gravid female adults from populations that were highly experienced with a range of Cycas species. In all three cases, the mothers were unable to distinguish between the two choices and deposited similar numbers of eggs on the two leaves.

Invasions that force two organisms to interact when no evolutionary pressures provided them the skills to sustainably cooperate may lead to unexpected results. This case study revealed an example where the wild-collected butterfly herbivore was highly skilled at discriminating among a range of Cycas species, thereby selecting the best food supply for the offspring. This skill set was lost in the populations of the butterfly that experienced novel Cycas species over time.

The 114 described Cycas species are among the most threatened plants worldwide. The insular species are especially vulnerable to invasions of herbivores such as Chilades pandava. This research outcome provides an example of the kinds of information that conservationists utilize when formulating plans to mitigate the threats.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Guam. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas E. Marler, Anders J. Lindström, Paris N. Marler. Chilades pandavamothers discriminate amongCycasspecies during oviposition choice tests, but only in an endemic naïve population. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 2016; 11 (8): e1208879 DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2016.1208879
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Effects of extreme weather events on butterfly populations

Increasingly frequent extreme weather events could threaten butterfly populations in the UK and could be the cause of recently reported butterfly population crashes, according to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Researchers investigated the impact of Extreme Climatic Events (ECEs) on butterfly populations. The study shows that the impact can be significantly positive and negative, but questions remain as to whether the benefits outweigh the negative effects.

While it is well known that changes to the mean climate can affect ecosystems, little is known about the impact of short-term extreme climatic events (ECEs) such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall or droughts.

Read the university press release.

PDF version:  extreme-weather-effects-may-explain-recent-butterfly-decline-press-release-uea

Posted in climate change, conservation, European butterflies | Leave a comment

Tricking moths into revealing the computational underpinnings of sensory integration

 

Our nervous systems are remarkable translators, channeling information from many sources and initiating appropriate behavioral responses.

But though we know how a lot about how neurons work, scientists do not fully understand how the nervous system integrates stimuli from different senses. You may smell smoke and feel heat, but how does the brain combining and interpret these different stimuli, signaling you to phone the fire department?

It turns out that insects are attractive models to investigate questions about integrating information from different sensory pathways. The hawkmothManduca sexta, uses a long, trunk-like proboscis to drink up sweet nectar meals from obliging flowers. A research team led by University of Washington biology professor Tom Daniel has teased out how hawkmoths integrate signals from two sensory systems: vision and touch.

Their findings, published Oct. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, illustrate the computational basis of this integration, which may serve as a general model for insects, other animals and humans.

“Sensory integration remains one of the more interesting tasks that even simple nervous systems accomplish,” said Daniel. “From tasks like reaching in humans to nectar-feeding in insects, our challenge has been developing experimental ways to reveal the mechanisms and circuitry that underlie combined visual and mechanical sensing.”

The hawkmoth’s proboscis is longer than its body, so it can probe deep within a flower to find nectar while the hawkmoth hovers above. Even as the flower sways and blows with the wind, hawkmoths have been observed adjusting their position to track with the flower’s position.

Scientists can study tracking behavior in the laboratory using specially designed, artificial flowers constructed with their own small nectar pods. Hawkmoths respond to these pre-packaged dinners similarly to real flowers, and — if researchers manipulate the artificial flower to move when a hawkmoth is feeding — the hawkmoth adjusts its position to keep up.

In addition to its drinking duties, the proboscis is also a sensory organ, relaying information about the moving flower it is touching. To see how input from different sensory systems contributed to tracking behavior, Daniel’s team modified the artificial flowers to simultaneously deliver contradictory visual and tactile cues: the flower’s petals, which the hawkmoth follows using its eyes, move independently from the nectar pod, which the hawkmoth proboscis touches. By studying how moths respond to discordant visual and touch signals, they hoped to decipher how the hawkmoth brain processes and combines inputs from both sensory systems.

“Typically, to study how a particular sense contributes to a behavior, scientists try to design experiments in which the animal only receives that one kind of sensory cue,” said UW postdoctoral researcher Eatai Roth, who is lead author on the paper. “But this doesn’t reflect what’s happening when an ensemble of senses contribute concurrently. Our approach — sensory conflict­ — bombards the animal with rich multisensory cues simultaneously. This allows us to model how information is processed and combined concurrently across different senses.”

Daniel and his team tested how well hawkmoths tracked while feeding on the discordant flower. When the nectar chamber moved but the rest of the flower was still, the moths were generally able to sway in response to their moving meal. But when they kept the nectar chamber still and moved the flower petals, moths only swayed slightly. This indicated that, for feeding, tactile information transmitted by the proboscis may be a more important sensory input than vision.

“In nature, the visual and touch cues largely agree and either sense alone is enough for the job. Having both provides redundancy, a backup just in case,” said Roth. “But when we present the moth with conflicting stimuli, it must decide how to balance the mismatched information — which cue to follow. And it turns out, quite surprisingly, that touch beats out vision in this sensory tug-of-war.”

They measured hawkmoth positions during the tests and used these data to describe hawkmoth behavior in terms of a mathematical model. Though the sense of touch appeared to play a greater role in tracking behavior, moths do not rely on this sense alone. Their mathematical model indicated that the moth brain uses a simple additive or “linear summation” model to integrate signals from the proboscis and the eyes. And though moths rely heavily on the touch cues from the proboscis, the model suggests that both the visual and touch senses are acute enough for the moth to follow the flower.

The team used this model to predict how moths would behave in a new discordant setting in which the nectar chamber and flower were both moving, but quite differently. The researchers tested these predictions on a different set of hawkmoths, and they responded to this floral discord just as the model predicted. Daniel and his team believe that the mathematical underpinnings they describe here may represent a common mode of signal integration in animals.

Senior author is Simon Sponberg, a former UW postdoc who is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Co-author is UW graduate, Robert Hall. The research was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Washington Research Foundation and the University of Washington.

###

For more information, contact Daniel at danielt@u.washington.edu or 206-543-1659 and Roth at eatai@uw.edu or 205-543-7335.

Grant numbers: FA8651-13-1-0004, FA9550-14-1-0398.

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Final Forecast of the 2016 Season — Week Beginning 2016 Sept 24

American Snout on thoroughwort in Howard Co MD [2016 Sept 20, photo by Jim Wilkinson]

A fresh American Snout on thoroughwort in Howard Co MD [2016 Sept 20, photo by Jim Wilkinson]

It’s the month of final hurrahs for summer butterflies; except for a few irruptive southern migrants like Common Buckeye we’re seeing the last of the large flights of butterflies for the season. If you’re lucky enough to have found the few spots of sunshine in the area today, or get out after the cold front passes tomorrow, you’ll still have some good butterfly observing and a chance at a couple of FOYs still this month.

Still MIA is Clouded Skipper, which is being seen in some numbers as far north as the Raleigh area but for which I have not yet seen any local records this year. Ocola Skippers are still being seen throughout the region, and Long-tailed Skippers are showing up in many locations. The normal grass skippers have peaked, including Sachem, but a new influx or emergence of Fiery Skippers is currently dominating a lot of area lantana patches. A few Leonard’s Skippers are still on the wing in their preferred habitat.

Monarchs are showing a strong flight in parts of the area, including dozens this week on the National Mall. A growing hypothesis is that the “dearth” of Monarchs in the mid-Atlantic area in the fall where they used to be common owes more to changing biogeography (and especially nectar sources) than it does to sheer numbers.

With one exception, swallowtail numbers are declining. There’s currently a fresh brood of Pipevine Swallowtails on the wing, where again a dozen or more were frequenting the Haupt Garden near the Smithsonian Castle in downtown DC this week. Palamedes is probably on the wing (and will be for another couple of weeks) in extreme Delmarva, and at least one Giant Swallowtail was noted in the past couple of weeks in the region.

Sleepy Oranges are in flight now; in some places in rather large numbers. Cloudless Sulphurs also are about in good numbers.

Hairstreak numbers also are dropping; exceptions are White M (several observations this week) and Gray. Azures still showed up very occasionally, and even Eastern Tailed-blues are tattered and dwindling. Great Purple Hairstreak should still be flying, however, in southern MD and DE. A few American Copper sightings came in, but no recent Bronze Copper observations (this species flies well into October on the Delmarva Peninsula).

Good numbers of Viceroys and Red-spotted Purples were also well represented in reports this week, as were laggard Meadow Fritillaries and diminishing numbers of Variegated Frits. Fresh Red Admirals were on the wing, giving hope for a final good flights. Commas and Question Marks were also reported; these are mostly on windfall fruit or puddling.  Fresh Snouts are out too.

This will be the last Mid-Atlantic Butterfly Field Forecast for the 2016 season, which wraps up each year on the last weekend of September. But if you want to continue hearing about sightings until the first heavy frosts, follow MDLepsOdes on Google Groups.   Thanks for following us this year, and look for the Forecast to return in April 2017.

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