Another Butterfly that Enjoys Eating Fruit and Scat on the Ground

Red-spotted purple butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A habitué of trails and paths in our parks, you’ll see them often in the summer months. As you hike that trail, your approach will send this fast flier up from the trail just ahead of you. It will fly some 30 feet further up the trail and once again land on your trail. When you continue forward, it will scoot into the vegetation lining the trail, only to return to where it started from 3 or 4 minutes later. Very acutely aware, it’s a challenge to photograph macro- (camera lens 15 inches from the butterfly).

This one was very handsome and our 2nd post of a Red-Spotted Purple. Red spots ablaze and the unique blueish glaze. Compare the 2 posts and be reminded that each butterfly is unique.

Rarely visiting flowers, here’s another butterfly that enjoys fruit on the ground and scat.

So . . . if its a Red-Spotted Purple, where’s the purple?


Little Wood Satyr Butterflies are Found in the Forest, not in Your Garden

Little wood satyr butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A nice diversion from the larger, flashy swallowtails and brushfoot butterflies . . . the Little Wood Satyr butterfly shuns the open terrain, stays away from wildflower beds.

It spends its time in treed habitat and where woods border on trails and paths. Seek them in May and June. Their numbers are cyclical . . . some years there’s lots of them.

Don’t search for them in your flower beds . . . remember they are found in forest. Don’t wait for them in wildflower beds. They don’t seem to nectar at wildflowers.

Here I was pleased to see that this one had sweet, sweet blue dabbed into its eyespots. Are you able to see the blue in the eyespots?

Which of the following will they enjoy? Rotting fruit or scat or tree sap drip? 


What Material is in the White Bond that Connects the Chrysalis to the Plant Stem?

Monarch butterfly chrysalis photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

We hope that you can see the exquisite detail of this Monarch Butterfly chrysalis (pupa).

The craftsmanship of the covering that encases the chrysalis is of the highest caliber. This covering is made of a material named chitin. Chitin is a slightly altered sugar molecule that is especially strong and durable. Amazing! take a sugar molecule, alter it slightly, and it can be used to form a tough cover that can withstand the elements.

What is going on within the chrysalis covering?

What material makes up that white bond that connects the chrysalis to the plant stem that it’s joined to?

How much is known about how the changes taking place inside the chrysalis are controlled?

You’ve probably seen these when you were a child. How much more do you know about them now?


Why do Question Mark Butterflies Prefer Weasel, Bobcat, Dog and Coyote scat?

Question mark butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

A stunning field of browns, creams and hint of purple: the Question Mark Butterfly.

Some say, what’s the point of reading any further? It’s the diversity. The diversity. Did most of you know it existed? That’s what is so refreshing about life and about getting out there and having a look at undeveloped terrain.

There’s so much out there. Polygonia interrogations is a neat butterfly. Solitary, never seen with species mates. Mysterious, appearing, pausing–gone! Regal, always seen in one pose or another, as if he or she(?) knows that paparazzi are poised nearby. And get this, most of them migrate up to Pennsylvania in the Spring. Hostplants are elms and hackberries.

I can’t recall a time when I saw a Question Mark butterfly nectaring on a flower? You will find them at sap drips and on scat? Why do they prefer weasel, bobcat, dog and coyote scat?  Hint: the scat of meat eating carnivores.

They got their common name because of the question mark-like marking found on them? Where is it?


Conditioning My Eyes to See Hairstreak Butterflies on Wingstem

Gray hairstreak butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

They prefer to rest on the leaves of certain small oak shrubs. It took me some years to condition my eyes to spot them. The critical cue is the geometry of their wing profile contrasted with their nongeometric surroundings.

Our subject here is nectaring on a native wildflower whose name is wingstem. Wingstem is a shrub that grows to a height of 6-7 feet and produces hundreds of bright yellow flowers that seemingly pump nectar. 2011 saw abundant wing stem. In 2010 wing stem was less evident.

Hairstreaks,like most gems, are very small, but very beautiful. There are many species about: Striped Hairstreaks, Banded Hairstreaks, White M Hairstreaks, Oak Hairstreaks, Acadian Hairstreaks the list goes on and on.

This is just to serve as a reminder that if you ever think you know everything there is to know well, there’s those Hairstreaks!

What 5 colors are on display on this Gray Hairstreak?