Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly Exudes Elegance while Sipping Milkweed Nectar

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly at Mason Neck State Park, VA

Mason Neck State Park in Virginia and our Zebra swallowtail is contentedly nectaring on Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

A butterfly that exudes elegance. Elegance of form: It’s very easy on the eyes. Elegance of flight: It’s flight is direct and lofty, remaining well above the ground. Elegance of diet: Seen here taking milkweed nectar. Their preferred diet, Paw paw, is just 12 feet away.

Eurytides marcellus prefer habitat close to bodies of water, and our subject here is within sight of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Bald eagles were diving for fish nearby. What a beautiful sight that is. Picture it, baby blue sky, wildflower in full regalia, no wind, butterflies alight and Haliaeetus leucocephalus circling and diving for fish. Ummmm!

Just 1 hour from Washington, DC, much closer than that to the National Museum of the Marine Corps and reached by a road that is lined with gracious Virginia mansions, our Zebra swallowtail is in the right place at the right time.

Our other post of Zebras was also captured at Mason Neck. That post was serendipitous.


A Duskywing Butterfly Feeding on Animal Scat

Duskywing at Raccoon Creek State Park

Duskywings! Little Skipper butterflies that meet and greet as you hike trails through wooded habitat. Several species can be met on the trail and they can be maddeningly similar.

Our Horace’s presented herself on May 8th, though she was too busy sampling scat to notice us. Erynnis horatius favors us with the spectrum of tans, yellows and browns that you now know that we love.

Just yesterday a friend offered that such butterflies really should be called moths. Uh uh! The differences are stark and genetic.


In Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands a Meadow Fritillary Butterfly Visits a Dry Meadow

Meadow Fritillary Butterfly at Rector, PA

It’s late morning in an expansive meadow in Rector, Pennsylvania. The Laurel Highlands is a beautiful and sylvan area in southwestern PA. Fittingly, this Meadow Fritillary is methodically nectaring on wildflowers. They prefer damp meadows, but as we see here, they also visit dry meadows.

This adult Meadow Fritillary is nectaring on Lance-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia). They are approachable when they are nectaring. Boloria bellona’s caterpillars feed upon those little violet plants that we often overlook. Violets are the host plants for many of the fritillaries.

Please make a point of seeing our post of the dorsal (above) view of a Meadow fritillary. The 2 photos complement one another. Although described in field guides as widespread, we see very few of them each year.


Peck’s Skipper Butterfly Prefers Sunny Weather

Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

When you hike trails, fields, forest, wetlands, disturbed land and almost anywhere, you’ll see skippers. They embody a palette of browns, yellows, whites, oranges and other colors.

The Grass skippers are especially abundant. Our Peck’s skipper (Polites pecks) prefers sunny weather and as with most skippers, is nowhere to be found if the sun is not present. When seen, they perch on leaves for a while, fly to nectaring flowers and when they fly they are fast and difficult to follow, staying close to the ground and flying in unpredictable patterns.

The thing about Peck’s skippers is this: When you are working in the field during May through August, they are there also and predictable in an otherwise unpredictable world.


At Phipps Conservatory, a Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly Warms Itself in the Morning Sun

Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

When you’re searching for large, photogenic butterflies your eyes are trained for movement and keen to see activity on nectaring wildflower. After much time spent doing this you find that you are also wired to notice smaller, yet unexpected photographic opportunities.

This is such a find. Our female Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly has minutes before left her night time hiding place in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory and now warms herself with the morning sun’s gentle rays. There is little activity around her at this morning hour (9:20).

This is the view you will enjoy of Everes comyntas. Note her white wing fringes, the sweet orange hindwing dots surrounding black dots. Her gray is rich and her ‘tails’ mostly gone, as the result of?

Very often people stroll over from nearby (very nearby) University of Pittsburgh and from Carnegie Mellon University to sit on the welcoming benches of the Outdoor Gardens and to stroll through the Gardens to collect their thoughts, prepare for their lecture and ponder their research path. Our Eastern Tailed-Blue helps relax them and reminds them to remain grounded and enjoy the rewards of being an esthete.