OK, we are FINALLY equipped to test for OE. I found an old Christmas or Birthday present QX5 digital microscope tucked away forgotten. Undaunted by Windows-only platform description on the box, I went on a search for Mac OS 3rd party software and found one!
Now I just need a bit of coaching in recognizing the dreaded spores under the 'scope. I have to admit this is very cool. Here are a couple of image captures from suspected butterfly scale sample: Bottom Lit image:
Top Lit image:
Now, this is the only area where there are heavy concentration of these spots that appear to be the spores in the entire sample. How would this butterfly's infection level be rated?
You can also use regular microscopes and stereoscopes too. Index cards tend to be thin enough that a bright light from a microscope can get through the card. I prefer my stereoscope, but the bulb burned out and have to use the microscope until I can find a new bulb.. but the card doesn't fit the platform well (tis made to hold slides not large pieces of paper lol) so it's hard to get a clear focus , but still good enough to see spores or not.
We had another OE candidate -- brown streaks during chrysalis development, then black residue inside the empty chrysalis and wings that wouldn't dry flat after eclosing.
While I was at it. I experimented some more with the microscope. I'm sure there are MUCH MUCH better images out there (and the quality of "slides" is not that great considering I'm just using transparent tape and pieces of packaging plastic to mount them with) but bear with me This is super interesting for a microscope neophyte like me!
A piece of torn off Monarch wingtip was handy:
When DD's released a Black Swallowtail and a Silver Spotted Skipper today, some scales came off in their hands -- It was a good reminder of how obviously more prone to scale loss the non-migrating local butterflies are than Monarchs!
What we have is a QX5 Computer Microscope (Windows only) using a third-party OSX software called miXscope, which does a fine job interfacing with it. QX5 is clunky and the plastic mechanism is flimsy -- absolutely no precision in the microsteps needed for focusing and NO platform positioning multi-directional micro-gear. NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL.
...but it does the job as you can see
I didn't take photos but late yesterday afternoon the owner of the broken wingtip was still out in the garden even though he was released day before yesterday. I could see his wing had become more tattered where his wingtip had broken off and today, he was having trouble flying. I was able to catch him with bare hands while he sipped from the Goldenrods in full bloom over the sedum. Tucking him in a glassine envelope and putting him in the fridge to calm him, I retrieved his wingtip from the microscope samples (I'm SO glad I didn't tape it down), assembled the Crazy Glue and the rest of the "butterfly wing repair kit" and put back his wing tip as best I could. I set him back on a sunny Goldenrod plume after another chill in the fridge while the glue set. He seemed content to spread his wings and sip. I hope he made it....