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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
As a young girl, the Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) – or Cabbage Butterfly, as I call it – was one of the first to catch my attention. For many years, there was a nice field right next to my family’s home and property, and the Cabbages and Sulphurs were always those that I often observed flying along the high grass, seeking flowers for nectar-feeding. It was the Cabbages and Sulphurs that eventually enticed me into following, chasing, catching, collecting, mounting, displaying, and presenting Lepidoptera. To observers, they seem to be more often in flight than grounded.
Still today, the Cabbage Butterflies are those to which I take quick notice since they are nearly all white, flying against a mostly green natural backdrop. One must admit that it is difficult not to notice a Cabbage Butterfly. Certainly, they are nothing special; they are very plain butterflies and are mostly all white in color. They do not have colorful patterns or designs. They do not have flashy, iridescent colors that reflect the sunlight. And, while their flight is of what I would consider average speed for a butterfly, they are not fast, nor slow-fliers. The only thing that really makes these butterflies stand out at all is that they are white.
Because Cabbage Whites are so common in the United States, it is easy to take them for granted, particularly even as a Lepidopterist or other entomologist. Cabbage Butterflies are widely considered pest to many garden plants, including cabbage plants. Yet, even with the many chemicals and pesticides that farmers and others place on their crops, these butterflies have found a way to survive.
And, this brings to mind how – even though they are common and even though they may be taken for granted – they have a wonderful, plain beauty. Their simple color and plain appearance can be a reminder for us of purity and simply beauty, something that the more grand and colorful butterflies lack. Therefore, this must also remind us that there is a reason for everything and a place for everything in the world, no matter how fancy or how plain. There is beauty in everything, including the common, white Cabbage Butterfly.