Where Would You Look?

Close up of Red Admiral Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it was basking on a trail at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania
Today is February 11th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This Red Admiral butterfly was photographed on August 27th, 2014. I was scouring Doak field for butterflies when this beaut flew in and stopped on a leaf. A real looker this one, sporting those smart red-orange bands, blue dots at the trailing ends of its hindwings, bright orange bands along its hindwing margins and even white tips on antennae. This butterfly is dressed to the 9’s.

“Where Would You Look?” asks a toughie. If you went outdoors today, or tomorrow, determined to find this Vanessa Atalanta, where should you look? To begin, they are common to all eastern US states, from Maine all the way south to Florida. Where in your area are they today, February 11th?

Answer? You’re unlikely to find their eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises or adults. Huh? Almost all the ones you will find in your garden, parks, farms, schoolyards and greenbelts fly up from Southern states in the Spring. Rarely do they overwinter as pupae. They are not well equipped to withstand northern winters. Remember those -9F nights we had this winter? This winged beauty has no adaptation for those temperatures.

You may hesitate to get into your car and drive 14 hours to St. Simons Island, Georgia. The butterflies take their time flying up from around there, but, that is what they do. Route I-95 anyone?

Jeff