Regrets? I regret that so many of our southern USA friends have never seen such a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell Butterfly. Guides such as Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America have Milbert’s rare south of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and the southernmost far Western USA. In Canada and the northern tier of the USA it can be found in June through October.
When you are fortunate to see a fresh Milbert’s, as I was here at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, you are near shocked by how beautiful this butterfly is. I was, and was again each of the few times I met one.
Nectaring on Teasel here, the oranges and yellows are starkly bordered bye nearly black, the 2 reddish epaulets on each forewing, the white spots on the forewings, the blue dots on the trailing edges of the hindwings, and more fit my sometimes shared recognition, that the finest jewelry produced by the studios of Tiffany, Cartier’s, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc. do not come close to matching the beauty of G-d’s finest butterflies. I’ve seen both and know.
Jeff photographs thousands of butterflies, and every now and again his youthful curiosity is raised. Every so often he sees something, and wants to know why?
This Eastern Commas butterfly was seen at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in town, in Eatonton, Georgia. It was spotted with its wings were fully extended, early on a summer morning, while it rested on a flat leaf. I looked, and looked and wondered. Why was this Comma, just now out of its chrysalis, so heavily black on much of its hindwings? Why?
One guess, of mine, is that when it flies amidst summer greenery, the black areas of its wings hide it well, in the reduced light of the deep forest, that forest much darkened by the many leaves of the trees above. The ‘red form’ Commas fly when there are few leaves on trees, and a blackened rump area would only make them more easily spotted by predators.
And what do you think?
He seemed to have a plan, as he worked the Liatris in that meadow. Me? I was in very high mood, because a meadow of Liatris in bloom is a very good find, a near guarantee that you’ll see lots of butterflies.
Shooting film (Fuji Velvia ASA 50 here in full sun) at Cloudland Canyon State Park in the northwest corner of Georgia, I knew that a good capture here would be usable, very. His black and yellow pattern, wings free of bird/predator strikes and his fine head, those crisp, round and shiny eyes would go well with his defined antennae and active proboscis.
Score those blue dots on his hindwings and a tease of orange in those flashes on the trailing margins of his hindwings, that would help too.
Catch all that and the rich color of the Liatris, as well as the comely background tones that film usually does, and all would earn a serious checkmark, image achieved.
His leftwings, well, I’m not concerned. I already like this image.
Sitting here in central Georgia, with rain falling and the thermometer at 45F, I have to overcome this recurring thought ; No Eastern Tiger Swallowtails ’til wha? April 2019? Hmmmm. No Georgia satyr. No Eastern pygmy blue. No Goatweed Leafwing or Monarch butterfly. Buck up, Jeff.
Exactly! And that’s where I met this handsome example. This Salt Marsh Skipper was nectaring in the ‘butterfly’ garden at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge near Townsend, Georgia. We were at the coast, just moments from the nearest Saltgrass, their hostplant.
They fly in the salt marshes of the United States, from Massachusetts, along the coastline all the way to Texas. They among the grass skippers. They’re easy to identify, with that long horizontal pale strip on their hindwings.
They are very kind, much tolerating the intrusion of the Macro- camera lens, to just inches from them. It seems that nectar near totally dominates their being, and my approach, no problem!
They ground me in reality. We sometimes get too big for ourselves, asking why this or that creature ‘deserves’ to continue its existence. Would not a nice development of fine homes be more important than that population of skipper butterflies that lived there for say, 200 years? Uh, NO. I’d say that there are some 200 or more good reasons to splat! that suggestion, as we do to Musca domestics on a July day.
A Why? Butterfly. Seen in April on the slope of Mt. Hermon, Israel. You’re likely to give this Levantine Marbled White the two second look that most white butterflies complain of.
Look again There’s something different here. Examine those hindwings. See them?
Those two “eyes?” Our white butterflies don’t boast “eyes.” If it’s not a white butterfly, like our Cabbage white . . . what group of butterflies does it belong to?
Levantine Marbleds are Satyrs. Hmm.
Are there any white U.S.A. Satyr butterflies?