Tuesday, September 8—Ocola Skipper

We look forward to our morning Monarch caterpillar count. I thought the number was down a bit from yesterday, but Kay’s keen eyes found about a dozen more, with the total counted over 20+.  She only had a HSV Lady Duffers Golf board meeting today, and spent the rest of the day reading. The Lady Duffers Golf League’s main focus is making new friends while enjoying a fun-filled game of golf. Their game usually consists of 9 holes played on Wednesday mornings at Coronado Golf Course, HSV’s executive course.

Based on information from and a recent find of Dan And Samantha Scheiman, Dan Olson and I traveled to Alum Fork Natural Area in an attempt to find the elusive and somewhat rare to central Arkansas Ocola Skipper butterfly. Alum Fork NA is only a few miles from Hot Springs Village as the crow flies, but about 40 minutes by highway and gravel road. We arrived about 11:30 AM, parked and ate chicken salad sandwiches made by Kay. Trees had been felled across the old logging road to prevent vehicle access, but allowed walking with some bending and other bodily contortions. We carefully looked at thistle and other blooms for nectaring butterflies.

Carolina Satyrs were seemings everywhere.

Several active blooms then drew our attention.

And then, a number of Northern Broken-Dash Skippers were observed.

A wasp apparently tangled with something it could not handle; the Robber Fly won and enjoyed a hearty lunch.

Robberfly assenting a wasp

On the way from home to Alum Fork NA, we talked about the absence of Fiery Skippers at our usual “haunts” around Hot Springs Village. We found them to be plentiful at Alum Fork NA.

And then we hit the motherlode. The long forewings, the rear 1/4 darkening of the outer wings, and the light colored veins were indicators that we found the Ocola Skipper. Dan and I took lots of photos, from almost every conceivable angle.

Making our way back to the car, Red-banded hairstreaks, Eastern Tailed-Blue, a nectaring Red-spotted Purple, and an Orange Sulphur were observed.

Back at home a refreshing gin and tonic was followed by restful evening.

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