What an elixir! My trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley was a stunning success. In Mission, I met dozens of new species of butterflies at the National Butterfly Center’s perennial gardens, trails and meadows.
Years of Oohing! and Awwing! at shared photos of those butterflies psyched me for that trip. Flew to San Antonio, drove to Alamo, Texas and we spent several days at the National Butterfly Center near the border with Mexico, as well as the “Wall” and Bensten State Park.
That joy that I felt, over and over again, happened when I was introduced to such as this, a Fatal Metalmark butterfly. Little Metalmarks and Northern Metalmarks tantalize me, with their understated elegance and shimmering ‘metallic’ stripes.
Pics like this one stoke my excitement for what this glorious 2020 will possibly produce!
My recollection is that beginning with those empty lots in East Flatbush Brooklyn, they awaiting the inevitable construction of new homes, and continuing here in Georgia’s Piedmont region in 2019, I have seen some 2,867 Monarch butterflies. That includes Monarchs seen in New York state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma.
When I saw this coupled pair of Monarchs, he was with wings spread, in the Perennial Gardens of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. These two Monarchs were the largest Monarchs I’d ever seen. She flew onto this Lantana plant first, and moments later he flew to her, with much force, and they joined bodies.
I stood there, wondering why these Texas Danaus Plexxipus individuals were so much larger than any I’d ever seen before??
It just kept happening? We’re working the perennial gardens of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas near the border wall. Then, a butterfly flies in from who knows where, and lands on a wildflower. Your brain does its 1/500th of a second discernment of the flight, wing shape, colors, patterns, flight braking technique, wing position on the flowerhead and then back fires the conclusion: New!!
Yippee! Another new one. This one alighted on Mistflower blooms. I shot away. Weeks before this trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, I spent much time studying whatever field guide I had of butterflies west of the Mississippi River. I’m not sure that was a good use of my time, for when this baby made its stage entrance, I wasn’t sure of what species of Checkerspot it was. John offered that it was a Theona Checkerspot Butterfly.
When the slides came back from Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, John’s ID was confirmed. My first meet-up with a Theona Checkerspot.
The illuminated cells in the image are its saving grace. Theona, illuminated.