Yesterday, October 7, 2014, was a real treat for viewing and enjoying butterflies near Atlanta, Georgia. The past several days have been gorgeous, with just about perfect weather. Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days of the year, and the butterflies were highly enjoying it as well!
The Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) must be migrating and making their way back to Mexico because there were two on our butterfly bushes yesterday. One Monarch stayed all day long, and the other was on “lay-over,” only staying for a little while. They both replenished their energy by drinking the nectar from the Buddleja butterfly bush flowers.
Also getting re-energized at the Buddleja bush was a Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis). I had seen this butterfly (I will assume that it is the same one) a few days ago, but when I went to get my camera and returned to take some pictures, it was already gone. So, I was delighted to see it again and take my opportunity to photograph it.
There were also several Skippers, Sulphurs, and Fritillaries flying about yesterday, as well. While they were too quick for me to get any pictures of them, it was great to get some photos of the Monarchs and Purple. It was definitely The Festival of the Butterflies here yesterday! 🙂
Probably the greatest number of butterflies that I have observed during the entire summer, I have seen in the past couple of days. There are Tiger Swallowtails, Female Black Form Tiger Swallowtails, Silver-Spotted Skippers, and Orange Skippers flying about. They all enjoy drinking the nectar from the many garden flowers in our yard.
While trying not to become dinner for the prevalent mosquito population, I snapped only a few pictures of the Tiger Swallowtail and two Silver-Spotted Skippers. At one point while photographing the Tiger, there were three mosquitos on my legs, so I only got a couple of good photos of the butterfly. Enjoy!
The photo of this Peacock Butterfly is amazing! I love it! Thank you for posting it. 🙂
Sunrise: 05.43 am Sunset: 09.09 pm
I stretched to my limit over a thick bramble bush to get this image. Moving closer and closer, hoping it wouldn’t fly away, the peacock slowly filled my viewfinder. I resisted the temptation to act before I was ready. This would be a one shot opportunity, I knew that! My flash would surely send the butterfly into the air. I struggled to keep my balance, and the camera steady. Holding my breath, the auto-focus beeped, I pressed the button, saw the flash, and promptly collapsed into the bramble bush.
Was the image worth the effort? Well, I achieved what I had set out to do, I was not able to alter camera settings, and it was an extreme shot. Under better circumstances, I could have done better! Another second and I would have shaken too much to get an auto-focus lock, and I…
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Check out this beautiful Tortoiseshell Butterfly!
This is a butterfly we’ve taken for granted. The Small TortoiseshellAglais urticae was once one of our most familiar and numerous garden visitors. Sadly it is no longer as common as it once was. In recent years, particularly in the south it has declined, possibly due to predation by the parasitic fly Sturmia bella. Somehow our buddleia bushes just don’t look quite the same without these butterflies nectaring on every other mauve, orange-centred flower head. But, let’s not get overly maudlin. Instead let’s reflect on what a stunning little insect this still is. Gorgeous orange set off with deft little touches of black, dabs of yellow and white, ringed with a necklace of brilliant turquoise. What’s not to like?
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Two weeks ago, my son and I visited the fabulous Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville Campus! If you are a Lepidoptera lover, this is a place that I highly recommend that you visit! In the entomology section of the museum there is a Butterfly Rainforest; a laboratory; caterpillar rearing exhibits; a pupae room; display cases of butterflies, moths, and other insects; nearly a three-storied high display of butterflies and moths in cases and/or photographs of them; models of butterflies and moths; and videos about butterflies that are presented.
The Florida Museum of Natural History includes a Butterfly Rainforest within a section that is devoted mostly to Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and pupae. The Butterfly Rainforest is a tropically-styled habitat for butterflies and moths, and it includes many trees, plants, flowers, birds, fish, and turtles. In the Butterfly Rainforest, we observed many different species of tropical butterflies, photographs of some of which are included in this post.
To me, the most beautiful of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest were the Morpho butterflies. The large Morphos (Morpho peleides) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat have eyespots on the undersides of their brown wings, and have a beautiful, irridescent blue color on the upper side of their wings. The striking, large Owl butterflies (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus), also with beautiful eyespots, were also wonderful to view.
There were also several Paper Kite butterflies (Idea leuconoe) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat. These butterflies may also be known as Rice Paper butterflies or Large Tree Nymph butterflies. They butterflies are large, with a wingspan of about 4″-5″, and have black and white stripes on their wings. They are slow and deliberate in their flight, and remind me of kites that are flying in the wind.
A couple of other butterflies that my son and I enjoyed observing in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat included the Brown Clipper (Parthenos sylvia brown) and Blue Clipper (Parthenos sylvia blue). This butterfly has two color forms – brown and blue – and is respectively native to the Phillipines and Malaysia. Both butterflies are beautiful to behold. They are fast fliers; and their stripes resemble those of tigers.
A very unique feature of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Lepidoptera and Entomology Section, is the Butterfly Wall. This wall is nearly three stories high, and contains photographs of butterflies and moths, as well as display cases that show them. It is extremely impressive! Following are photographs of the Butterfly Wall, as well as certain sections of it. Also to follow are pictures of the Pupae Room and Caterpillar Rearing Area. Some of the photos may also include my son.
Also included in the Museum were many display cases that presented butterflies, moths, and other insects. Following are photos of a few of the display cases.
Videos educating visitors about Lepidoptera were also available for viewing at the Museum. While my son and I were there, we watched a portion of a video about Monarch butterflies. It was great to be able to explain to my son how Monarchs migrate and roost.
All of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat were a real treat to watch as they flew throughout the enclosure, with a few landing on their human observers. In all, we spent about two hours at the Florida Museum of Natural History, also enjoying the Titanoboa Exhibit. We had a really great time there, and wish we could have stayed longer!
The saddleback caterpillar, Sibine stimulea, as seen in my photos herein, is a formidable foe to birds and other predators. This caterpillar is found in eastern North America, and belongs to the family of slug caterpillars.
With it’s green and brown coloration, the saddleback caterpillar blends in with tree bark and foliage, camouflaging itself. A circular brown spot on it’s back gives it the name, “saddleback.” Circular white-colored spots may serve to scare away possible attackers.
Arguably, the saddleback caterpillar’s greatest assets are it’s horns on which protrude urticating hairs. These hairs are more akin to needle-like spikes that secrete poison that can cause irritation and pain.
I have never touched a saddleback caterpillar, and I don’t suggest for anyone to do so. These caterpillars are really beautiful and interesting to view, though I wouldn’t want one to mistake me for a predator, stinging me with poisonous venom. They are better to leave alone, simply admiring their uniqueness and natural beauty!
Above, please enjoy viewing a photo of the female moth of this species!
Bugguide. http://bugguide.net/node/view/507. May 17, 2012.