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Summer Butterflies and Caterpillars in Georgia

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Giant Swallowtail in my backyard, June 2017, Snellville, Georgia

There have been many beautiful butterflies that I’ve seen here around Atlanta, Georgia this summer, but have been too busy to post until now.

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Great Spangled Fritillary in my backyard, August 2017, Snellville, Georgia

I try to look for and photograph butterflies in my area that I’ve not seen here before.

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Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars, Snellville, Georgia, August 2017

Included in this blog post are those butterflies that I haven’t seen in my area before, in my past 17 years of living here in Georgia.

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Purple Hairstreak butterfly, Gainesville, Georgia, June 2017

I’ve also included a picture of some swallowtail caterpillars, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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October Butterflies in Georgia: Monarchs and Purple (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Monarch Butterfly, Snellville, Georgia, October 8, 2014

Monarch Butterfly, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

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!

Two Monarch Butterflies, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

Two Monarch Butterflies, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

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.

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

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.

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly at Rest, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly at Rest, Snellville, Georgia, October 7, 2014

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! 🙂

 

Tiger and Skippers (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Silver-Spotted Skipper, Snellville, Georgia, August 13, 2014

Silver-Spotted Skipper, Snellville, Georgia, August 13, 2014

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.

Tiger Swallowtail, Snellville, Georgia, August 12, 2014

Tiger Swallowtail, Snellville, Georgia, August 12, 2014

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!

Female Black Form, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Eastern Black Swallowtail female in black form, July 10, 2014, Snellville, Georgia

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Female in Black Form, July 10, 2014, Snellville, Georgia

It has been so hot and dry here in the South this year that plants are withering away and tree roots are reaching toward the earth’s surface for any hint of water.  It has also been noticeably difficult for birds, butterflies, bees, and insects due to the lack of water, as I have seen relatively few of them this summer in comparison to past years.  There has been some rain and a few showers, but the heat dries up the rain and moisture very quickly.

Female Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly in Black Form on Star Gazer Lily, Snellville, Georgia, July 10, 2014

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly in Black Form on Star Gazer Lily, Snellville, Georgia, July 10, 2014

Due to these conditions, I was happy to see one female Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly in black form last week.  She was getting nectar from several Star Gazer Lilies.  It appeared that she had recently hatched from her chrysallis and was still heavy with unlaid eggs.  She was a beauty!

“Autumn Painted Lady” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Painted Lady Butterfly, November 6, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

Painted Lady Butterfly, November 6, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

While outside, enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday in my area around Atlanta, Georgia, I pleasantly observed three Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies flying about the yard.  I was able to photograph one of them by getting a few feet away from it, and not scaring it away.  One of the butterfly’s hind wings was damaged – as seen in the above photo – but that did not appear to hinder its flying abilities.  The temperature in my area was 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was a balmy fall afternoon.  I’d say the day was quite enjoyable for the butterflies, too!

“Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, September 23, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, September 23, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

In our garden this week, we noticed several Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes).  They are beautiful!  I counted one dozen of them feeding on the parsley plants in our garden.  And, with one dozen of them eating those plants, their food supply is diminishing quickly!

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, September 23, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillar, September 23, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

At first upon seeing these caterpillars, I thought they might be those of the Anise Swallowtail, however I have never seen that type of swallowtail in the eastern part of the United States.  The Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar, however, is quite similar to the Anise Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio zelicaon), and can be easily deceiving in potentially confusing them with each other.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, September 23, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars, September 23, 2013, Snellville, Georgia

I am thrilled to have observed and photographed these caterpillars this week on our parsley plants, especially because birds, spiders, and/or wasps often prey on various caterpillars in our yard before they become adult butterflies or moths.  It was a real treat for my family to see and enjoy these lovely specimens!

Peacock Butterfly.

The photo of this Peacock Butterfly is amazing! I love it! Thank you for posting it. 🙂

The Wilden Marsh Blog

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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Small Tortoiseshell

Check out this beautiful Tortoiseshell Butterfly!

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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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“Three Decades of Collecting Lepidoptera” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Original Lepidoptera Display from my Second Year in 4-H, 1984; These Specimens are Between 29-31 Years Old.

Original Lepidoptera Display from my Second Year in 4-H, 1984; These Specimens are Between 29-31 Years Old (The Cecropia Moths, I Raised from Eggs!)

For me, insect collecting was an interest and recreational hobby that began when I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Living next to an open field, as well as a corn field and wooded area across the street from my home, was prime territory for butterfly hunting.  It also helped that my mom had a garden and many flowers that always attracted butterflies and bugs. 

Display Case of Sphinx and Silk Moths, Mostly Caught in North Carolina

Display Case of Sphinx and Silk Moths, Mostly Caught in North Carolina

My parents bought me books about butterflies and moths, and in one of those is where I read that people could actually collect and display these wonderful natural treasures.  My dad was supportive of my hobby by making a wing spreading board for me, and eventually, beautiful display cases.  When I started out in that first year, though, I pinned my butterflies and other insects with steel pins; those rusted very quickly.  Also, I pinned my finds in an empty shoebox at my mom’s suggestion, and found out that my treasures did not last.  The advent of my use of actual display cases, made to the specifications required by 4-H, was and still is a wonderful way of preserving and displaying my collection.

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, Purchased from Ianni, Along with Some Domestic Specimens

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, Purchased from Ianni, Along with Some Domestic Specimens

Some neighbors who were aware of my insect collecting knew a 4-H leader near my hometown who was also a Lepidoptera collector.  Her name was Mrs. Patricia Lawton of North Collins, New York.  Under her tutelage and guidance, Pat nurtured and encouraged my passion for insect – and particularly, Lepidoptera – collecting.  She taught me how to best-preserve my specimens, how to best spread their wings and display them, and she informed me about the proper pins to use.  For the next two years, my collections were displayed at and won awards at the county (Erie) and state (New York) fairs. 

Imperial, Regal, Luna, Sphinx, and Other Silk Moths from North Carolina; and Black Witch from Florida

Imperial, Regal, Luna, Sphinx, and Other Silk Moths from North Carolina; and Black Witch from Florida

Once I turned 15, my interests transformed into becoming more involved in high school clubs, academics, sports, music, theater, language, and writing.  For many years – about 15 – I shelved my passion for collecting and displaying butterflies and moths.  When I came back around to it at about age 30, I decided to go further in my collecting pursuits and look to the Internet for purchasing tropical and exotic butterflies and moths.  The Internet is where I located Ianni Butterfly Enterprises, located out of Ohio, that sells Lepidoptera. 

Blue Morphos and Other Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni

Blue Morphos and Other Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni

So, more than one decade ago, I began investing in expanding and enriching my Lepidoptera collection by adding dozens of tropical and exotic butterflies and moths to it, mostly purchased from Ianni Butterfly Enterprises.  This company is an excellent and reliable carrier, and I highly recommend them for outstanding, top quality specimens.

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, All Purchased from Ianni

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, All Purchased from Ianni

After about five years of adding to and investing into expanding my Lepidoptera collection, I decided that the expense had become too much, that I was getting carried away by it, and there were other priorities and responsibilities into which to put my money, most particularly my son.  Also at that time, I began to view collecting with a very different perspective.  I reflected on all of the butterflies and moths that were being sold for a profit, and recalled how much more I enjoy observing them as living creatures.  Certainly, looking at them and enjoying them in display cases is lovely, but viewing them in full living color, flying about with zestful energy became much more appealing to me. 

More Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, All Purchased from Ianni

More Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, Nearly All Purchased from Ianni

Therefore, I resolved to stop actively collecting butterflies and moths about five years ago.  Throughout the past 30 years, I have collected insects, including Lepidoptera, as my collection shows.  However, with my increasing age – and hopefully, wisdom, as well – I decided that it was more important that the butterflies and moths should live their lives without my catching them for my collection.  Instead of continuing to actively collect Lepidoptera, I have turned to photographing butterflies and moths.  Of course, if I happen upon an injured or deceased butterfly or moth, and it is in a condition that I believe is worth preserving, I make it part of my collection.  Otherwise, and unless it is a specimen that I do not have in my collection, I do my best to observe and enjoy these lovely creatures in life rather than in death.

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni; and Domestic Butterflies and Moths

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni; and Domestic Butterflies and Moths

The photographs in this blog post are of the majority of my Lepidoptera collection, spanning more than three decades of collecting.  The oldest butterflies and moths in my collection are at least 31 years old, with my having caught and displayed them as an independent 4-H member. 

A Display Case of Specimens, Many of a Somewhat Lesser Quality

A Display Case of Specimens, Many of a Somewhat Lesser Quality

All of my Lepidoptera display cases were made for me by my dad, who is a very talented craftsman.  The cases are made of wood, glass, and styrofoam; and are of excellent quality.  Once or twice each year, I take the time to do maintenance on my collection by replacing the moth balls (notice the folded envelopes inside the display cases – these contain moth balls) in order to deter the bugs from infesting and eating my prizes. 

In the past when I was much less experienced with maintaining my collection, I made the mistake of not placing moth balls inside the cases, and I have lost entire cases of Lepidoptera to bugs that completely disintegrated my treasures into dust.  When one sees this occurrence, one can really understand the phrase, “Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.” 

Entomology Display Case, Holding Some Butterflies and Moths; Most Insects are Between 30-35 Years Old

Entomology Display Case, Holding Some Butterflies and Moths; Most Insects are Between 30-35 Years Old

Just last year, there were some tiny buggers that got into one of my display cases that housed many of my expensive tropical and exotic Lepidoptera.  Unfortunately, many of them were not salvageable, and I lost about one dozen or so to them.  This year, I did not lose any of my collection to the dust-creating bugs.  Thankfully, the moth balls did their job in keeping away the pests, but these crystalline chemicals do lost their potency after awhile and must be replaced in order to keep them away.

This is my collection.  These are my prized treasures.  This is my hobby about which I am most passionate.  I hope you have enjoyed viewing my collection!

“The Abundant Skippers” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

In the past week, Middle Georgia has seen mostly sunny weather, bringing about an abundance of Skipper butterflies.  The most of any type of butterfly that I have observed in my area all summer are the Skippers. 

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

On the butterfly bushes and flowers, the Fiery Skippers (Hylephila phyleus), Clouded Skippers (Lerema accius), and Silver-spotted Skippers (Epargyreus clarus) are enjoying as much nectar from the flowers as they can take in. 

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Previously, I had not posted any photos of Skippers on this blog because the butterflies are small and are a challenge to get into focus on my camera.  Indeed, I have taken many more photos that are blurry and unclear than those that are worthy of publishing. 

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Indeed, it has been enjoyable to view and observe the Skippers flittering about.  They are generally dainty and cute butterflies.  They mostly have the flowers to themselves this summer, but for sharing them with bumblebees and the very few honeybees that are around if one is lucky to spot them. 

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Keep your eyes open for these quick orange and/or brown butterflies the next time you are outside near your flowers.  They are so small that they are easy to miss.  Just look for the small orange or brown butterflies that are about the diameter of a dime, and you’ll see them!

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

The Silver-spotted Skippers are larger than the other two types, about the diameter of a quarter.  However, they are also fast-fliers and are easy to miss unless you look carefully.