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!
On March 11, 2014, I saw the first butterfly of the year of 2014 in my area around Atlanta, Georgia. It was an Eastern tailed blue butterfly, Cupido comyntas. The outdoor temperature reached at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit; and the butterfly was flittering around, casually, through the air.
On the evening of March 10, 2014, having been another warm day, I also saw the first moth of the year, a small, common wood moth. Both the butterfly and the moth flew right past me, bringing a smile to my face. Spring has arrived, although the approaching freezing temperatures due to the winter blizzard being experienced in the North will put a damper on the flowering and budding for awhile yet.
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!
This morning, as I was loading up my son’s backpack and instrument in my vehicle for the daily drive to school, a Tersa Sphinx Moth (Xylophanes tersa) flew past my left ear and into the vehicle! What a wonderful late summer treat here in Georgia!
As the moth flew past me into my vehicle, I heard a loud whirring sound, and knew it was some type of large moth. Because it was still quite dark outside, it was difficult to ascertain whether or not the moth was in my vehicle, however I saw it flying around. It’s wings were moving so, so fast – just like those of a hummingbird. And, the sound that it’s wings made were just like those of a hummingbird, as well.
I decided to close the door of my vehicle so the moth remained inside until I was able to show it to my son. In fact, I showed it to my entire family, explaining about the loud whirring sound of it’s wings when it flew past my ear, sounding like the hum of a hummingbird’s wings. My son let it out of the vehicle, and after getting it’s wings warmed up by landing on a nearby plant, it was on it’s way. What a nice experience to start off our morning!
Brown, B. (2011). Coral Reef Photos. Retrieved on September 17, 2013. http://www.coralreefphotos.com/tersa-sphinx-moth-xylophanes-tersa-tersa-moths/tersa-sphinx-hodges-xylophanes-tersa/