Visiting an unfamiliar region yields a plethora of new wildlife species to discover. Here are a dozen insect species we came upon recently while adventuring in the State of Georgia.
In many places in the northern hemisphere, the weather in October brings increasingly cold weather and less insects. But in the southern states the cold weather is often not as extreme or as long-lasting.
Last month in southeast Georgia, it was in the Fahrenheit 80s and 90s (27-32 Celsius) and insects were still abundant.
Butterflies are one of our planet’s most decorated insects, and the numerous species in Georgia did not disappoint.
The Gulf Fritillary, photographed above, appeared often, lighting on a variety of flowers. Like so many butterflies, the markings on the dorsal (top) side and the ventral (underside) are different, boasting two unique looks on the same individual.
Another exotic southern butterfly is the Zebra Longwing.
I have seen this species in Texas and Florida on previous trips, and was delighted to find about a dozen of them fluttering among the weeds behind the Dairy Queen. I’ve read they roost in groups of up to 60 at night, for protection.
The insect I was most fascinated with on this trip was the Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper. They have unusually pointy heads and long, thin bodies, much like a toothpick.
One day I had the joy of watching this grasshopper species in the marsh grass. I was walking along the dock when I noticed one effortlessly sail from one thin marsh reed to another. I was mesmerized as it danced across the reeds and out of sight.
Dragonflies, like butterflies, are insects that offer a kaleidoscope of bright colors and interesting markings. Add to that their compound eyes and shimmery wings, and you have one of Earth’s masterpieces.
We were spotting birds at a stagnant-looking pond covered with duckweed, when this flamboyant pink dragonfly, below, greeted us. A roseate skimmer.
Then minutes after the Roseate Dragonfly visit, a Roseate Spoonbill flew overhead. What a rosy day.
While on a boat tour in the Okefenokee Swamp, this Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly, below, kept landing next to my feet. The boat was fiberglass with a flat bottom, and I cannot imagine the dragonfly particularly liked the fiberglass. So maybe she liked the boat’s vibration, or maybe she just felt like hitching a ride.
Other Georgia dragonflies that greeted us were the Eastern Amberwing with its dazzling gossamer red wings…
… and the dashing blue dasher.
One day for about five minutes, this handsome grasshopper landed on the patio. The vertical brown body part is his wings.
I found this wasp especially beautiful in its striking geometric markings.
And here are a few more butterflies, because we can never have too many butterflies in this world.
A pair of mating Cassius Blue Butterflies and, in the subsequent photo, a Cloudless Sulphur.
Lastly, one of my favorite butterflies while in Georgia: the Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly. You can see how big it is in comparison to the Plumbago flowers. Swallowtail butterflies, from the Papilionidae family, are some of the largest butterflies on our planet.
Insects are integral to our planet. Some resources say that insects comprise 80-90% of the animal life forms on Earth.
I still have Georgia reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals to share with you. But for now, we can find glory in these most amazing insects.
Written by Jet Eliot.
All photos in the wild by Athena Alexander.