GL 263 Polyphemus Moth

Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee - Vol. 263

This is pollinator week in New York State and with the heat we are going to have this week the butterflies should be doing their thing. Just last Saturday while traveling to Number Four the dirt part of the road was covered with both yellow swallowtails and white admirals working things dead in the road, mostly their own kind. Some are feeding on coyote and fox scat as they mark spots along their route. Lots of sphinx moths, which they call hummingbird moths, buzzing around in the flowers and there are lots of flowers for them to feed on. Many of the nighttime moths are also feeding on flowers. Some of the bigger ones are attracted to the bright lights and even the light of a burning campfire fire and they will dive right into it. One night back in the Plains some campers put out their fire as over ten Luna moths went right into it. One night I stopped at the easy mart in Old Forge and there were forty to fifty Luna moths flopping around under the lights. I picked up several that looked like they might survive and put them in the cap on my truck. I took them out in the woods on the South Shore Road and released them. Some flew away and some did not. When there is a kill like that you see many bug eating birds picking them up the next day. Another thing that gets killed by cars especially around wetlands are dragon flies. When you see the Crows and Ravens working for lunch along the roadside, they are mostly picking up these dead dragonflies. Anything that is easy to find is fast food for them. I’ve seen the Ravens bring their babies to a spot a mile in on the Plains Road along Fawn Lake and they may be there for more than a week eating just dragonflies at the peak of the hatch. 

I have not seen a Luna moth yet, but I have seen a few polyphemus moths. One was on our porch the other morning as it came to the light on the computer inside and was still hanging on the porch post in the morning. 

In my travels I have seen a few more fawns crossing the highway with mom and several hen turkeys with a brood of a few babies. One up crossing the Big Moose Road just past Covewood had ten little ones all in the road. Six went with her and I stopped because the other four froze on the yellow line. I never took any pictures as these four were in a panic as the rest of the family were already across the ditch into the grass. Mom was having a fit clucking away and they finally fled the road but one fell off the high edge of the pavement and rolled onto its back. He had never been on his back before being only a day old and everyone else had left him to struggle there. He kicked until he was upright and rushed into the grass with the others. It was comical to watch, and luckily no other cars came along. If you see a doe or a turkey crossing the highway, give them some space as they may have little ones crossing behind them. 

In the Loon world several nests have already hatched and a few more will be coming off this week and next and get their chicks on the water before the big Fourth of July weekend. We do not know how they will deal with the heat wave that is coming this week. Normally they do not get that kind of high temperatures while they are nesting. They do pant on hot days just like a dog to cool themselves and they will get off the nest just like when the blackflies are so bad and cool off in the water before getting back on the eggs. They cannot leave them too long exposed, or they would cook in the sun. In the last week of incubation, they will sit tighter than normal because the chick inside the egg is closer to the shell, filling the egg and more sensitive to hot and cold as well. They tell me there are some specific blackflies that just love loons and they will drive them off the nest if they are too bad. I have seen pictures where the Loons head is completely covered with blackflies and around some nests you can hardly see the Loon for the batch of blackflies around the bird. I have my bug jacket on, on those kinds of days. The Loons will sometimes abandon the nest and renest when the blackfly problem is a lot less. This year has not been too bad but this little cold snap before the heat wave may bring a few more out. It was 34 degrees on Sunday morning, so I am sure some folks had frost. I know there are plenty of deer and horse flies chasing me around in my canoe on the lakes and no dog or stable flies that I have seen yet, the ankle biters. 

A neat Loon experience but that’s another story. See ya. 

Photo Above: Polyphemus Moth