When I meet a Red Spotted Purple Butterfly I check to see if it is fresh (recently eclosed from its chrysalis) and if it bears red spots on its forewings. On its upper (dorsal) forewings. Most of them lack prominent red spots.
I followed this one, at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania because I saw that it had beautiful red spots at the apex (outside corner) of its wings.
For reasons yet not clear to me, I Love those red spots, and smile when I find them!
NB, Were those Georgia Asters in the background?
There’s a goodly number of butterflies that thrill you when you spot them. This happens when they are especially fresh from their chrysalis (hard outer shell formed by the caterpillar), when they are handsome examples of their species, and when the day features crisp, clear air and sports a comfortable temperature.
Which rock me, Jeffrey? Monarchs, Viceroys, Gulfs, Red Admirals, Palametes Swallowtails, Malachites, Milbert’s Tortoiseshells, Giant Swallowtails, Goatweed Leafwings, Erato Heliconians, Silver-spotted Skippers, lots of others and . . . Zebra Heliconians.
Suzanne is correct, I shoot film, Macro-. Why? Because I’ve visited too many museums, art galleries, and top auction galleries to praise images that lack real-time-color. I prefer Fuji Velvia film, ASA 50, the same film used to capture this image.
I’m sitting here with the field guide most sought after now, and truth be told, this wingedbeauty image excites with the very same color that you marvel over when you find a fresh, fresh, fresh Zebra Heliconian butterfly in the field.
Where were we? The National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas near the border wall with Mexico.
What’ve I seen? Well, I’ve seen perhaps some 50 or so Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies, these 24 years of earnestly hunting for butterflies. That makes them a Will of the Wisp butterfly for me, one that you see on say, day 3 of a 4 or 5 day field trip. They fly in silently, elegantly, and by the time you register ‘Spicebush!!,’ he or she has already begun to fly away.
When I saw those 2 of them, here in my New! Georgia Piedmont natives garden, months apart, I mentally bookmarked, ‘Get their hostplants: Spicebush and Sassafras. Glassberg in his field guide A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America shares that they are “U-A.” That is, that finding them can be uncommon or abundant depending on where you are. So mark me down in the “U” end of the spectrum, for I almost never see them.
My sizable natives garden, here in Eatonton, now sports both hostplants, Sassafras and Spicebush, though we are now entering only year 2 for each of them. I did find a lone Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar in October 2018, brought it in to my new ‘cube,’ and it now rests as a chrysalis in the cube on the back porch.
This buster accommodated me at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat right here in Eatonton. What say you of him?
If I queried Las Vegas on the odds of my attracting Spicebush adult butterflies this 2019, I haven’t a hunch as to what they’d come back with.
I so want these winged beauties to visit, and stay a while. Vegas?
We’ve fretted for years, concerned that the numbers of Monarch butterflies was plummeting to crisis numbers. Up and down they went, and all of us kept our eyes and hearts peeled, awaiting credible reports back from the mysterious mountains in central Mexico. Just the realization, so recent for so many of us, that Monarchs had to travel to the east most USA from that far! made us cringe!
So here we are in September 2018. Many of us are sharing rich, beautiful images of Monarchs seen in our gardens, parks and roadsides, just these last weeks. Seeing them as if their numbers are good, strong.
Here in central Georgia, I’ve seen multiple Monarchs flying in my garden at the same time. That’s a whole lot better than I saw in this area in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Females have been laying eggs on my Asclepias (milkweeds) by the dozens. Several dozen have enclosed (safely left chrysalis and flown) these last weeks. Yippee!
This male on Joe Pye in Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Can we rest assured that for the meantime, Monarchs are safe? Virginia? Monarchmama? Curt? Phil? Marcie? Jeff (Jamestown, NY)?
Black Swallowtail butterfly and chrysalis
There’s no doubt that this Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly eclosed (exited its chrysalis case) just hours before. When I noticed it in the Low growth at the Butterflies & Blooms In The Briar Patch Habitat I (Eatonton, Georgia), I slowly approached ( see How Does Jeff Do It click-on above ). Yikes! It was . . . spectacular. Spectacular.
I sit here, examining this work of High Art, and remain transfixed, by the many, many wondrous features of this sylvan winged beauty.
I almost know why it hits me so hard, so bullseye to my personal psyche. It all goes to living the beginning of my life in concrete, brick and asphalt. Working six days a week, and living in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, with 0.006% proximity to such as you see here, and less time to seek it. To teaching high school Biology students, and no time to explore of what I teach. To Huge personal loss, of the woman who applauded my early, focused butterfly field work products. To a circle of friends and acquaintances who questioned my sanity, asking “Are you taking pictures of bugs?”
To Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, where I was just 2 days ago! Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas and to Virginia’s Masterpiece, the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat . . . and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge. Stop.
Tell me, what does this photo, and the nearby chrysalis evoke in you?