What do I think? I think that 1 in 71,209 Americans know this butterfly. Critics probably argue that 1 in 94,456 Americans know of it.
True, my interests run to butterflies, but true again, when hikers come along trails I’m scouring for butterflies, trails rich with butterflies, I always stop them and ask, “Have you seen any butterflies along the trail?” The answer is alway, “No.” I smile, and they continue along their way. They are not attuned to looking for butterflies, and just don’t notice them as they work their way along trails.
Kind of the opposite situation exists when I work trails and habitat in the western United States (or on occasion in the eastern U.S., where farmer have told me they have seen Cougars, and park rangers and park office staff always defuse any possibility that Cougars live east of the Mississippi River). West of the Mississippi, I am a bit distracted, for there have been times that my sense of being watch rises to its highest . . . .
This Harvester butterfly, Feniseca tarquinius is “LR-LU” (Locally Rare-Locally Uncommon). It is found nowadays in Parks, Refuges & Habitat Reserves, where Alder trees/bushes grow and running streams are not far away.
The more I get deeper into pursuing butterflies, the more it tickles me that otherwise heavily university educated, expert so in their own interest or pursuit, know zero of butterflies, and the Harvester might as well be a John Deere!
Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, 8 hours by car, due west of New York, New York.
I’ve seen them several times, those only on that Nichol Road Trail in Raccoon Creek State Park, Southwestern Pennsylvania. I remember those electrifying moments.
When I occasionally see someone elses Harvester Butterfly image, it awakens those way too few memories.
Meeting a Harvester butterfly, characterized by Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America as LR-LU ( Locally Rare to Locally Uncommon ) does do that to me.
‘The Only What? Butterfly’ in North America because no other North American butterfly caterpillars are carniverous. Their consume aphids.
This image? I have always been in love with their plays of brown color and, I wanted to cop an image that I would be pleased with, before this winged beauty fled.
My English profs would be disappointed in me, if they opened this post and found that I no longer remember what an Ode is. What I do recall is that an Ode was often melancholy, written for something missed.
Well I so miss seeing Harvester butterflies. Those tiny gems that startle you when you see a puddle in the middle of a favorite trail, and at the edge of that puddle you see a geometric form, always the first indication that you have seen a butterfly, usually hairstreaks on a leaf or a very tiny skipper or blue butterfly.
I spotted this one on the Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. I loved that trail, rich as it was in habitat and butterflies. On that trail I experienced a trifecta, over the years seeing Mourning Cloaks, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and Compton Tortoiseshell. MY eyes registered something, a triangular shape at a tiny puddle formed. by the rain the night before. What’s that?
I made the most robotic of all approaches, and knew that was something special! I every so carefully got down on my belly (Park vehicles do sometimes use this road!), confirmed Harvester!! and crawled inches closer. Not wanting to spook this Harvester butterfly, I did not make a full approach and I shot away.
The original Pookie, this butterfly is a favorite of field guide writers, for its caterpillar is the only known carnivorous caterpillar in North America.
Ode to Harvesters? Truth be told, I’ve seen 2 of them, on that stretch of trail over the years, I’ve not seen another in some 20 years. Twenty years! I so miss the Rush! when you meet a Harvester.
Someone yesterday posted their image of a Harvester Butterfly, on FBook. It is so rare that I see an image of this certified Pookie butterfly, that I stopped and examined the good image, and that led to a lot of daydreaming and reminiscing.
It’s been so many years since I enjoyed my 2 (Yes, only 2) meetings with Harvesters. Both times I was just where A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Glassberg) wrote you’d have to be, “in or near wet wood, with alders.” I was on that favorite trail of mine, Nichol Road Trail, in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. There was a small creeklet running slowly some 12′ away, it had rained the day before, and the Harvester, the solitary Harvester was calmy taking moisture at the edge of a little puddle.
They are excellent models, holding their poses nicely and not fleeing. The thing is that they are tiny, and my Macro- lens necessitated that I get down on stomach. No complaint there, so willing a model a Harvester is.
The problem with finding a Harvester is they are so LR-LU (Glassberg’s Locally Rare to Locally Uncommon). Seeing 2 in 24 years or so attests to that.
I’ve got to add though, that when you scan a puddle that’s on a trail and near a streamlet, and you see a Very unfamiliar butterfly shape there . . . OMG!!! what’s that! Maine to the Florida Panhandle to eastern Texas and north to North Dakota. This is one of the ‘Needle in the Haystack’ butterflies, no doubt.
Where have I sought out USA butterflies? The northeastern states (New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts), the southeastern states (Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida), Arizona, and last week, Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
I’ve found many butterfly fans reticent (reluctant) to discuss their field experiences. Lately in the company of birders, they freely tell of what they’ve seen and where they saw it.
Interested in knowing what butterfliers have seen, I usually choose the right moment, and pose my question: What butterflies would you like to see?
This one, shared here, ranks up there as the one many with extensive field time have not yet seen. The Harvester.
I take much pleasure hearing this, for I have not yet (Yet!) climbed the southeastern mountains of Arizona, scoured the Keys for amazing finds, hiked big, Huge Alaskan tundra or climbed the mountains in California.
I have seen Harvesters, three times in southwestern Pennsylvania, but so many of my friends and bare acquaintances have not.
Is that raw of me? I hope not.