Northern Pearly- Eye Butterfly

Northern pearly eye butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Stealth. That’s what you need to approach a basking Northern Pearly-Eye Butterfly. This one was perched just right, affording views of both upper wing surface and lower (ventral) wing surface. It’s as if we positioned it for the best possible pose. So….hold your breathe and follow the approach technique described in our Technique feature. We took this photograph on Nichol Road trail at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania.

This will be our 4th post of Enodia anthedon, and once again we share the richness of its chocolate- browns and cocoa on its wing. Eyespots on the dorsal (upper) surface broadcast their solid brown centers. The eyespots on the ventral wing sport yellowish rings with dramatic white pupils. The photograph evokes the kind of image that would work well in a chocolate shop in Sao Paulo or London or Tribeca or Seattle.

Meeting such a handsome Northern Pearly-Eye that is wistfully enjoying some morning sun, reminds you of the time that you went downtown and taken by surprise. OMG! isn’t that? Fill in the name of a uber! famous person.

Gender?  I think that this butterfly is male.  It has 4 eyespots on the ventral forewing and the forewings pointed at their front ends.

Remember that this is a species whose habitat is a wooded and especially moist locale. The butterfly is infrequently spotted.  When I do see it I must quickly check aperture and shutter speed, because it is almost always found in the shade. Photographing a Northern Pearly-Eye butterfly may even require a polarizing filter, because of morning dew all around. This one made it a bit easier, perched on a leaf with conditions being drier than expected.

A  morning maker, for sure.


PS. This photograph is featured in our poster for an upcoming presentation at Raccoon Creek State Park.

Northern Pearly-Eye Butterfly

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

It rained the last night and the morning sun just rose a short while ago. Perfect conditions for our Northern Pearly-Eye Butterfly, basking in those warm rays of the sun.

They prefer it when it is moist and that’s why you usually find them close to moving water. We discussed in an earlier post that this is one of the few species that is active on moist, overcast days.

Enodia anthedon prefers wooded habitat, so we see that this is one that will be an infrequent addition to your image inventory. It takes lots of get-up-and-go to go out with a camera on a moist, overcast morning and then spend appreciable time in wooded habitat…filled with lots of biting critters and the rarely seen Northern Pearly-Eye, which flees like a lightning bolt when it sees, hears or smells you.

So, this image is appreciated.

Our earlier post of this species likens it to Secret Service operatives. We have once again reminded you why this is so true.

It never seems to nectar at wildflower. What does it subsist on? Flowing sap, scat and the minerals taken up from mud.


Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Excuse me? Where’s the butterfly? Oh, yes, there it is…why are you posting a photo with so much foliage and so little butterfly?

Well it’s August 29th and it has rained intermittently for several days at Raccoon Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania. The greenery is lush and the air is moist. Perfect conditions for Northern Pearly Eye butterflies.

Enodia anthedon prefers moist habitat in proximity to moving water. Our other post of E. anthedon shares the dorsal view of this masterpiece of browns, yellow and white spots.

I haven’t answered the opening question. Northern Pearly Eyes are akin to the U.S. Secret Service. They prefer to be in the background, they shun contact and you’ll only see them when conditions are right. They never (I’ve never) are seen nectaring at wildflowers, adding to the scarcity of encounters.

So on the August 29th, when we chanced to go out and scope butterflies, despite the very wet conditions, we groused to ourselves that the 37 mile drive has been unproductive…until we looked to the right, into the greenery and Wallah! this beauty of a secret agent.

The adrenalin pumped, exposures were made boom-boom-boom…and this image happily presented itself.

One never knows when setting out…


Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Ah, the Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly. Like the Will of the Wisp, one never can be sure when you will encounter one. This one was at Raccoon Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania.

It’s early morning and our individual (female?) is basking in the modest morning sunlight at the edge of the woods. She nicely shows the black and orange-tipped antennal club.

Enodia anthedon is unique amongst the butterflies that I encounter. E. anthedon regularly flies when the sky is overcast, even when a fine drizzle mists the air. Almost all other butterflies cannot be seen during such weather.

This is a fine looking Northern Pearly Eye, nearly perfect but for the small tears in the forewing tips. Birds? Snakes? ?.

A subsequent post will be of the ventral (underside) view, with its distinctive ‘pearly eyes.’

So, if you out on a trail at the edge of a woodlot, on a cloudy morning, and there’s a stream nearby, don’t be surprised if you happen upon a very demure, Northern Pearly Eye. Sometimes they stay, other times they speed away.