I sent outside for a little while today and took some pictures of butterflies. I was down near the storm management pond next to my building and saw pearl crescents (Phyciodes tharos) as seen here as well as cabbage whites (Pieris rapae). There were also bees around, but not so many as there were only a few weeks ago. Getting good photographs of butterflies is challenging but it’s something I enjoy. This is a mid-sized butterfly, considerably smaller than the swallowtails or monarch but larger then the blue, featured recently. They are fairly common and easily spotted but as with most butterflies, difficult to get too close to.
Tagged With: Lepidoptera
I went outside today and walked around a bit in the lot next to my office. The weather was fine and it was nice to be out in the sunshine. I startled a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) as I walked towards a vernal drainage pond. It’s often completely dry by this time of year but it had more water in it than in previous years and it hasn’t all evaporated yet. Above it, I was able to get close enough to get a pretty good photograph of this eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas). They are pretty common but easily missed, as they are fairly small and flit around near the ground. They’re worth looking out for, I think.
I went on a short outing this afternoon to the Agricultural Farm Park today and spent a little time wandering around the Master Gardener’s display garden. Mostly I photographed insects (and a few flowers). It was a pretty productive outing as far as insect photos go.
- Danaus plexippus (Monarch) Caterpillar
- Murgantia histrionica (Harlequin Bug)
- Papilio polyxenes asterius (Black Swallowtail)
- Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary)
- Allograpta obliqua (Common Oblique Syrphid)
- Diabrotica undecimpunctata (Spotted Cucumber Beetle)
I’m particularly happy with the oblique syrphid fly, as that’s the first one I’ve photographed. The black swallowtail is one we don’t see nearly as often as the eastern tiger swallowtail. I’ve seen harlequin bugs on occasion but not all that often. The same is true of the cucumber beetle.
The butterfly weed (Asclepias) growing in a container outside our back door is very attractive to insects but particularly so to monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Lately we’ve had two of them on it at once and occasionally three. I got a few pictures of the two today but I think this is a better portrait of this handsome butterfly. I really enjoyed sitting and watching them flutter around the flowers, stopping occasionally at other plants but generally preferring the butterfly weed.
What an absolutely beautiful day it was today. The high was in the 70s and in August, that’s a rare and joyous thing. I worked on the car today, gluing the rear-view mirror back on in one van and replacing the struts that hold open the rear hatch on the other. Cathy and I also did a fair amount of yard work, pulling up weeds and beginning the process of clearing out some of the central bed in the back yard. There were two trees where that bed is, a medium sized red maple and a fairly large silver maple. They’ve been down since the spring of 2013 and as the roots have rotted, a few holes have opened up and need to be filled. The whole bed needs quite a bit of work, to be honest, including digging out some particularly tenacious weeds. I took a break to take pictures of some of the many butterflies that were out today, including this meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona), a pretty medium sized brush-footed butterfly.
I took a few wasp pictures again today but they were too blurry to use. One was clear enough to get a good idea what it was, but nothing to write home about. Then I went out to the middle of the back yard and took some photos of the berries on the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). They’re starting to turn pale purple and it’s easy to see where the shrub gets its common name. This skipper landed on the berries and I was able to get close enough for a pretty good portrait before it skipped away. I’ve only occasionally gone to the trouble to identify individual skipper species. With some notable exceptions they are all pretty similar and I just never get around to it.
I was a little worried about sitting through church this morning but my back tolerated sitting for long enough that it wasn’t a problem. We were happy to see some friends that visited the church a few weeks ago come back again today. After church we walked to the Stadtman Preserve next door to see what was going on there. They’ve been renovating the mid-century modern house that the Stadtmans build and lived in and it’s nice to see the progress. There were naked lady’s (Amaryllis belladonna) in bloom and I got a few photos of this little brown and white caterpillar. I have no idea what sort of creature it is. I’m going to guess a moth but I won’t go any farther than that.
I took some butterfly pictures this afternoon, as well as some flower pictures. While sitting in the chair that Cathy was in when I took the picture for a few days ago I could get pretty close to a few flowers without having to strain my back. Then walking around I saw this prettily colored ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) on a black-eyed Susan. It took me a while to get down on the ground to get the pictures but I think it was worth the effort. Although it’s named for and feeds on a non-native tree, the Ailanthus webworm moth is actually a North American native from Florida, where its original host was the Simarouba glauca (paradise tree) and Simarouba amara.
I chased down some butterflies in the back yard today, including this common buckeye (Junonia coenia). They are resident year round in the south as far north as North Carolina and they move north over the course of the summer. Because of that we tend to have them later in the year than other butterflies and I’ve only just started to see them. They are pretty easy to identify and are very different to the other species that we have. This one, obviously was interested in the black-eyed Susan flowers that are in such abundance in our yard right now.
As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.
I stopped at Lake Needwood this afternoon to see what I could see. It’s gotten quite hot, with the forecast for hotter still by the end of the week. The butterflies and dragonflies like that sort of weather, and they were out in pretty good numbers. I happened to spot this question mark (Polygonia interrogationis), so called because of a roughly question mark shaped mark on the underside of their hindwings. I got one photo of the butterfly on a shrub and then if flew and landed on my thigh, thus the blue denim of my jeans. I was able to get a few pretty good photos, including this one. I also got one showing the question mark, but I think this is prettier.
This is a dark-morph (and thus a female) eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on the buddleia outside our kitchen door. The tiger swallowtails are the most numerous, large butterflies in our garden, followed by monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Otherwise, we only have occasional visitors. There are a lot of smaller butterflies and skippers, particularly small skippers. But the large, gaudy swallowtails are fun to watch and among my favorites.
As we were getting ready to leave for work this morning, running a bit late, as we often do, I paused to take a few pictures of butterflies and skippers on the goose neck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) growing by the driveway. This is a silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), one of the larger skippers we see regularly in our garden, with a wingspan up to about five centimeters. It is common through most of North America and certainly common for us. They’re easily identified by the large, silvery-white irregular spot on their hind wings.
I stopped at Lake Needwood on the way home today. It was a beautiful afternoon, although a bit warm for my taste. I walked around to a point point eastern shore near where there is an old beaver dam. There is no evidence that there are any beavers around any more, although the dam is in reasonable shape, considering. It’s been there since before the aerial photos used in Google’s map were taken. I got some nice photos of this eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus). I tried to get pictures of the swallows flying over the water but they were moving too fast and I really wasn’t set up for that sort of photography. I got some pictures of dragonflies, as well, and one that was good enough to use to identify a female common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas).
I saw my first butterfly of the year today. I know there are generally some out even earlier than this, but this is the first I’ve spotted. I’m pretty sure it’s an azure (Celastrina sp.) but the various species are difficult to tell apart and I’m not even going to try to figure out which it is. It’s a pretty, little thing, with a wingspan of only a little over an inch. This is a small butterfly and it took a bit of patience to get close enough to get this photo. Still, it was nice to see and the harbinger of things to come. As you know, if you’ve followed my work for any length of time, flowers and insects are two of my favorite subjects for photography and we’re coming into the best time for both.
One of the things in my in-laws house that we didn’t get rid of was this butterfly collection. It’s a box about 15 by 20 inches that opens up like a book to twice that size. Each side has butterflies mounted between cotton backing and a glass plate. They are quite lovely and varied. Not shown here is a very large butterfly that is bright blue on its underside (which is the visible side in the collection). The other side, the upper sides of the wings are brown. In this way, it blends in with the the earth from above and with the sky from below.
I was a bit surprised this afternoon to see this butterfly and was happy to be able to get close enough for a pretty good photograph. It turns out that the commas overwinter as adults and they can be seen on warmer days, such as today. The name comes from a curved, comma shaped mark on the underside of their hind wings. Another species in the genus has a question mark (and therefore is called the question mark instead of a comma). It’s a pretty little thing and it really brightened up my day to come across it.
I know I posted a photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) recently but I sort of like this photo of a monarch sharing a coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with an eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), so here you are. This was taken in the same garden as the former and like that one it was in the afternoon when the shade of the building was on it, so it isn’t as well lit as I would like.
I walked around the small pond next to my building and saw lots of raccoon footprints in the fresh mud. I took some pictures of those and also of some skippers, a cabbage white (Pieris rapae) and a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos).
I had a short break in the usual busyness at work today so was able to get out to take a few pictures. I got a few of a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) and a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). I was able to get photos of both of them in flight but they were both pretty far away and they pictures aren’t all that great.
Before I came back inside I walked past some buddleia growing in a flower bed in the front of my building. There were a few monarch butterflies ((Danaus plexippus) flitting around on them. Although the garden was in the shade of the building, there was enough light to get some pretty reasonable photos.
It was dark and raining this morning and into the early afternoon but by 5:00 PM or so the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I wouldn’t actually have minded the clouds staying around because our air conditioner has called it quits and a little less direct sun would have been welcome. Still, it was nice to get out and look for insects to photograph. This little fellow, a Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius), was on some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) in the front garden. I also got some pictures of an eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas) but they weren’t very sharp. Quite shy, those little blues.
I stopped at the commuter parking lot on Georgia Avenue where it crosses the Intercounty Connector today and took some pictures of insects on wildflowers growing on the hillside above the parking lot. I had originally stopped because there were beautiful clouds to the northwest but by the time I got there the sky was pretty much a uniform grey. There were goldenrod soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) all over the goldenrod (which makes a lot of sense) and there were quite a few types of bees. I followed this little butterfly around a while until I was able to get close enough for a few decent photographs. The one taken after this is considerably closer but not as sharp, unfortunately. The dwindling light from the heavy overcast was makign it hard. But I enjoyed being out in the wind and with insects all around.
I got a few nice arthropod photos today, one spider (a Basilica Orbweaver (Mecynogea lemniscata) and a few bees. My post for today came down to a choice between this monarch and a photo of a Philanthus gibbosus, one of the thirty-some species of beewolves in our area. It’s a pretty little bee with pitted chitin and a distinctive pattern of yellow and black. I photographed it on a black-eyed Susan, which went well with its coloration. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to go with this rather nice photo of a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Oddly, most people who dislike insects don’t really mind butterflies. It’s true that they are pretty harmless to humans but then, so are a lot of other, more easily despised insects. Maybe it’s because they are so colorful and pretty, but frankly, I think wasps are pretty, so there.
I saw a few of these little moths today. I believe it is a pale beauty (Campaea perlata).
This thing is huge. It’s as big around as my thumb and as long as my middle finger. Actually, I think it’s pretty amazing that this big, squishy, green blob turns into a beautiful (and quite large) moth. In this case, a Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus). It’s named after the Cyclops Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey because of the large “eye spot” on its hindwings.
This is the first monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) I’ve seen this year. All of a sudden there are lots of them in the yard, on the buddleia, the black-eyed Susans, and here, on the Conoclinium coelestinum.
After not being able to go out to the farm for three straight Saturdays it was nice to be able to again this morning. It was quiet and I enjoyed a little photography time in the vegetable garden. I came upon this caterpillar, which I believe is a tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) that is covered with eggs from some parasitic insect, possibly a Braconid wasp of some sort. A little less spectacular than Alien and no Sigourney Weaver but that’s the general idea.
The cabbage white (Pieris rapae) is cosmopolitan and ubiquitous. This one is in my back garden.
Taking pictures of bees and butterflies on flowers is hard, but at least they land, if only momentarily. This is a sphinx moth and I’ve only very rarely seen one actually land. Certainly when feeding on flowers they tend to hover. Unfortunately this one was not in the sun, so it’s not shown as nicely as it might be, but beggars cannot be choosers. I’m guessing that this is Hemaris diffinis, the snowberry clearwing, but I really don’t know.
This is a male eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). These and more of the silver-spotted skippers (see photo in yesterday’s Extra gallery) were out in force today feeding on the teasel (Dipsacus sp.) flowers in the lot next to my office.
his is a common buckeye (Junonia coenia), posing for me on a garlic mustard. An uncommonly beautiful butterfly, I think.
These little guys don’t sit still for long and don’t like being approached but I managed to get a reasonable shot of one today. Eastern tailed blue, Everes comyntas.
Follow-up: I have two more pictures of this butterfly taken on April 27 in my Extras gallery.