Marcie, Laura, Ken, Virginia, Cathy, Deepthi, Lisa, Kenne, Sertac, Bill and so many more have been sharing beautiful butterflies these last weeks. Whatever weather and other stresses surfaces earlier this year, the bounty of fresh, handsome butterflies abounds these last weeks of August and into early September.
Prepping for a very special presentation here in Middle Georgia on October 14th (and joined by Ellen Honeycutt of the Georgia Native Plants Society = anticipate a Wow! program), I reviewed and reviewed my own Media Library, selecting which images I will share (I do hope you join us!)
Permission to add one more beauty? This Viceroy butterfly enabled me, as it took some time to rest on a large Tithonia Mexican Sunflower leaf. We were at Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. All those years of reading those butterfly field guides, reading that the Viceroys of the Southeastern USA sport deeper, luxuriant color, were confirmed again here. My Fuji Velvia film did its job well here. No?
I know to give alot of room, when identifying Crescents in the field. Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes Tharos) vary from individual to individual, and can give you fits, because some are so variable, enough to tempt you to think that you have found a unique one.
Have a look at this female. She was nectaring in the reserve meadow at the Jamestown Audubon Center in Jamestown, New York. It’s those mid-forewing bands that triggered my curiosity. Yellower than I’ve ever seen, they reminded me of Phaon crescents, though I know that they fly hundreds of miles south of Western New York.
Some of the mystery slipped away after referring to Cech and Tudor’s Butterflies of the East Coast. They caution: “Female mid-FW [forewing] band often slightly yellow-toned (but less so than in Phaon [crescent]).”
When I turn the page in Butterflies of the East Coast, our girl starts looking a bit like a female Tawny Crescent, at least to me. Well Jamestown was once their range, but Cech and Tudor sadly note that Tawnys have disappeared from western New York post-1970’s.
So there you have it, Crescents are very handsome butterflies, but one must allow for a great deal of variation, and it’s a whole lot easier if you are well-schooled in identifying these winged beauties.