Your heart beat jumps when a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly flies in! Mine does. You just never see them in pairs or threes, and do you expect to see one? No. East of the Mississippi River, they are a northern butterfly.
When this one flew in, and set on this Teasel flowerhead, I was so Thankful for being there, being there then. Add to that the Milbert’s slowly worked the Teasel flowers, one by one, methodically. Better yet, it did not flee when I made my long, protected Macro- lens approach. Icing on the tiramisu cake was that the one was . . . gorgeous. Just look at that flash of nourishing orange on the dorsal surface of that right forewing.
I’m humbled by such limited experiences. I expect that few of you have been so fortunate as I’ve been, to have met and spent many minutes with Milbert’s (this one went to several Teasel flowerheads before it flew).
Raccoon Creek State Park, Nichol Road trail, southwestern Pennsylvania, about an 8-hour drive from the Statue of Liberty boat landing.
(Teasel is an alien plant, FYI, although truth be told, many, many butterflies adore its nectar (as do bees, such as the one shown on the far side of the Teasel)).
This trip was one that I went along with a group of Orchid experts, scouring several destinations in Ohio. This was the same Ohio that I’d never entered, though for 27 years I lived nearby, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. What changed? Barbara Ann A”H (OBM”) invited me to join her, Angela and others, and I jumped at the chance. Did we see Orchids? Yes, Oh yes.
This delicate beauty was seen in Cedar Bog, Ohio. With the Loss of Barbara Ann, no quick ID is available to me. I must await your identification. What I do know is that Orchids are those words: delicate; spectacular; gorgeous; inspiring; other-world, etc.. That we still can locate them in these modern times, after more than 100 years of almost total development, is a Blessing.
It’s time to ask y’all for an ID for this sweet, delicate, inspiring wetland wildflower. It grew in the swampy habitat along a trail at the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Panhandle. I saw it, stopped, admire it and shot it, for your future help in identifying it.
There are tens of thousands of botanists in the southeastern USA alone, and its comforting to know that some know all, or nearly all.
I’m now in my 3rd read of Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher (Houghton Mifflin, 1955) and on page 53, they slightly unnerved me. Peterson, the great birder who is so revered by many I know, is touring the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. with James Fischer, this Fisher’s first visit to North America.
Peterson notes that “Hundreds of species-no one knows exactly how many, because new ones are constantly being noticed-are now part of the American flora. The list is long . . .dandelion, black mustard, spearmint, peppermint, forget-me-not, mullein, field daisy . . . yarrow, teasel, tansy, and many, many others.” Teasel? My beloved teasel, that so enabled me back in Pennsylvania when I visited Raccoon Creek State Park as many as 200 times? Enabled me because when it was in bloom, as it is here in this image, it attracted butterflies, moths and Ruby-throateds, and they loved its nectar so much, that I was able to score many, many pleasing images.
So teasel is here to stay, but, it ranks as an alien species. No Leps use it as a host plant. What would Doug Tallamy say of that?
Barbara Ann (A”H or OBM”) showed me Watts Flats Wetland Reserve in far Western New York State. It sure must have been conserved because it includes several unique, rare and hard to find green plants.
This was one of them. Barbara Ann didn’t know its name, and that told me that it was special, very.
She passed this year, and Oh how she will be missed. She enabled me to visit many wondrous reserves in New York and in Ohio, where she introduced me to Angela and several other accomplished naturalists.
With 2021 just around the corner, my immediate plan is to scour Georgia and Florida for butterflies, and at the same time, seek extraordinary wildflowers and orchids. Who to lead the way, now that is the question?