When I meet a new butterfly for the very first time, a lifelong memory gets created. I remember this day, back in 2016. Rose and Jerry Payne were kind enough to meet me at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Happier than a duck!, what with the agreeable guidance of 2 accomplished lovers of butterflies, we headed to that swamp in the Refuge. Score! That’s where I met my first Southern Pearly-eye butterfly. Then there was my first Creole Pearly-eye butterfly. Triumphant, even after those hours of sloughing through dark, super-humid swamp, Rose asked: Is there any other butterfly that you’d like to see in the Refuge?
Yep. I’d be happy to see Silvery Checkerspots, Rose. Off we went. When they stopped and parked. Rose and Jerry spread out, and in moments, Rose called me over. This is my first ever Silvery Checkerspot! A very fine one, fresh and complete. Those white spots on the trailing edge of the hindwings sang to me. A Silvery!
What do I want to see in the coming weeks/months? Hessel’s Hairstreak, Elfins and Diana fritillaries. Yes, I know that’s asking a lot. The years have been kind, and now I can call many kind lovers of butterflies my friends. That so increases the odds for me. Happy, I am. I’ll return to Ohio in June and then to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in November.
The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge swamp was a Georgia treat! Mucky, dark, wet, oxygen challenged, strewn with foot catching snares, and who knew if any moment I’d be stabbed by an infectious armed vector (mosquito, tick or other micro-meanie). When I was given the mandatory dangers talk in the Refuge office, I actually thought: Look I survived many dangerous threats in my life, do I want, at this point to have a big as the head of a tiny pin vector of bacteria to do what knives, guns, garbage can covers or cars did not do?
But Rose and Jerry were finding Satyr butterflies, and each time selflessly calling me to come and see this gem or that beauty. They were incredibly skilled at finding these low-flying, elusive butterflies, and I was having so much fun.
When we finally left the swamp, Rose asked of butterflies I’d enjoy seeing. Somehow Silvery Checkerspots were mentioned. I had not seen one for 12 years. Off we went to a spot that they knew was good habitat for Chlosyne Nycteis. Still on Piedmont Refuge land, we arrived at a small retaining pond, and minutes later Rose spotted this Silvery Checkerspot. I made my approach, and when I got really close for my macro- shots, I saw that she was wonderful! Her forewing tips were especially dark and she bore the white-centered spots in her hindwing submarginal band.
Like any top model, she cooperated. patiently awaiting my decision that I was satisfied with the exposures I had.