The Atala and the Ruddy Dangerwing

 Jeff Zablow's Perennial Beds Pittsburgh, PA, 7/10/07

A friend shared her pic today, of a Ruddy Daggerwing on her own Ficus, aka fig plant. I looked, and looked and asked myself, How can a Ruddy Daggerwing be up there in the northeastern USA. Hey, they have been seen in the Dakotas, and they are native to very southern Florida, but New York state? (I’ve never seen a Daggerwing, yet).

That shot a thought across my recollection. The time in this very garden, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was moving through this much missed perennial garden, late on a beautiful morning, when I spotted something resting on the granite slab you see there. I look. I was stunned. Thousands of times poring through my Cech and Tudor Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press), I’ve long wanted to see an Atala butterfly.  Southern Florida.

I bent down . . . Yep, an Atala butterfly in my Pittsburgh garden. Zero doubt about it. Wwhhaatt! A moment or two later, it was gone.

I checked and I checked and there was the explanation: They will on occasion appear in locales where folks have planted or container-planted Coontie plants. I did not have a Coontie, but someone nearby did.

Turns out the friend on Facebook was no longer living up north, and now resided in Florida. I laughed, no mystery at all, but . . . Totally Exciting, to see a Ruddy in your own yard, on your own fig plant.

So, Floridians, especially those in south Florida, can score a double-header, an Atala and a Ruddy Daggerwing on the same morning, in their own garden. Mamma Mia!