Flipping the pages of my copy of Jeffrey Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Princeton University Press, 2nd Edition), I stopped often, to acknowledge how fortunate I’ve been these years. I stopped on page 392, at this little under-appreciated, the Salt Marsh Skipper. Glassberg notes they are “U-A.” Uncommon to Abundant.
They fly from Rhode Island all the way along the coast to Texas. That sounds like a great swath of the United States. Yet, no. They’re only found in salt marshes that line the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s just say from Rhode Island all the way to Texas, but, that Big but, just in the Saltgrass, perhaps no farther than 50 feet or less from the waters’ edge.
So those in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi Louisiana and Texas can only see a Salt Marsh Skipper if the search for it within some 50 feet of the shoreline, in Saltgrass.
Sort of hidden in plain view, no? John and Nancy led me to this one, in Brunswick, Georgia. Another one you’ll likely never see?
I think I nailed it! Writers are cautioned to not use the exclamation point. I’ve tried hard not to work it into wingedbeauty.com, but it sooo hard not to spring that nifty symbol of emphasis. Here I use it and take full responsibility.
You see just before I was about to end my morning at the Butterfly Garden in the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, I decided to risk it and work my way down the path to the small platform built just before the water’s edge. As I worked my way there, I startled quite a few resting butterflies, without capturing any on film. OK. The best part was that they were especially young and fresh. Reaching the platform I found that it was surrounded by a bush, not known to me before. The bush had sizable flowerheads on it and Several Limenitis arthemis astyanax sipped nectar.
There was one of those Red-spotted purples that was spectacular. I’ve seen hundreds. These were very richly colored and that one was spectacular. As it worked a flowerhead, the sun overhead lit up its wings and I am telling you, the result was capital ‘I’ incredible. I thought to myself, Brazil, Costa Rica, National Butterfly Center (Texas).
Could I capture an image that exploded with those beautiful colors? I think that we captured her unique elegance. What think you?