Although Willard & I didn’t locate any bachelor groups of mature bucks during our Friday morning visit to Shenandoah National Park we did encounter a good number of Monarch Butterflies visiting the milkweed plants that are prevalent in Big Meadows.
Many of our fellow bloggers have been noting the unusually low population of butterflies so far this year. The situation seems to be quite wide spread. I along with others have noted that it may be connected to the unusually cool and wet weather experienced in the eastern United States this spring and summer.
A news release dated August 6th from the Pennsylvania Game Commission may shed more light upon this subject. The news release deals with the recent outbreak of gypsy moth that we experienced here in Pa. By all indications this year should have proven to be devastating to our forest. Thankfully that was not to be.
According to this news release the caterpillars were hit by both a fungus, Entomophaga maimaiga and a virus Lymantria dispar Multienveloped Nuclear Polyhedrosis, both deadly to the emerging caterpillars.
Although no mention is made of these diseases affecting other caterpillar species it is possible that they also took their toll on some of our favorite outdoor photographic subjects.