Milkweed Feeds Legions of Butterflies, Bees, Flies and Beatles

Red admiral butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Ah Vanessa! Dorsal (above) photographs are elusive because Vanessa atalanta is difficult to approach. Ventral (below) photographs are even tougher to obtain. And when you are fortunate enough to get a couple, they usually disappoint.

Why? Because the underside of Vanessa’s wings are especially beautiful and truth be told, difficult to score a really fine image.

Our Red Admiral here is nectaring on milkweed flowers (Asclepias) and those of you who did not settle, can enjoy the rich canvas here with its reds, blues, browns, tans, white, black and washes, swirls, circles, etc.

Captured on June 27th at Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania, milkweed is the Giant Eagle/ Kroger’s/Giant/Piggly Wiggly/Lions/Albertson’s/Big Y of wildflowers. It feeds legions of butterflies, bees, flies, beetles, and on and on.

Our 3rd post of Red Admirals reminds us of how much we enjoy this species. When you’re out there seeking butterflies and getting skunked suddenly like Troy Polamalu there’s a blurrrr and it’s a Red Admiral. Fresh, proud and impatient.


An Orange Sulphur Butterfly Feeding at the Juice Bar in Raccoon Creek State Park

Orange sulfur Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow a Raccoon Creek State Park, PA. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at

One of the most difficult of the Eastern U.S. butterflies to photograph (macro-) this Colias eurytheme. Most of the time we cannot tippy-toe up to them–they speed away once you are 10 feet away from them. Their escape flight is usually just 2 feet above the ground and generally to a landing 40 feet away!

This one though is at the juice bar, sipping at Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). Red Clover must be especially tasty. It’s visited by such a variety of butterflies and bees. While this Orange Sulphur butterfly was feeding at Raccoon Creek State Park in September, our very careful approach was tolerated.

Funny about things . . . Orange sulphurs migrated eastward from western states in the 1920’s and red clover was an alien wildflower, introduced from Europe. Neither were found east of the Mississippi when George Washington became our first President.

During this past winter, which carried this species through to Spring? Adult, Larva or Pupa or Egg?