Butterfly Sampler

A painted lady (Vanessa cardui) basks in the sun on a roadside rock to warm its flight muscles.

Like miniature floating tapestries —  stippled, spotted and striped — they decorate gardens, yards and roadsides. Butterflies are plentiful this summer. Alongside the bumblebees, they pollinate many flower species and aid with seed production. But honestly, I love them more for their color, grace and elusiveness; for the joy they evoke in the eyes of children and the hearts of people of all ages. I delight in the first and last of every season — often a mourning cloak or red admiral in late April and a tortoise shell or red admiral in October.

Here are a few of the butterflies I’ve seen recently:

Eastern-tailed blues (Everes comyntas) are active May – September in the Upper Midwest and southern Canada.

This hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) was attracted by sweet apple juice in my pail of apple windfalls.

Mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa) overwinter as adults and are often the first butterfly active in April. They favor oak and maple sap; watch for them at woodpecker drill holes.

Two rows of yellow spots on the forewing distinguish the black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) from the eastern tiger swallowtail female dark form (Papilio glaucus).

This female monarch (Danaus plexippus) deposits an egg on the underside of a common milkweed leaf.

White admirals (Limenitis arthemis arthemis) are common in areas with aspen and birch. They prefer sap over flower nectar.

Red-spotted purples (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) are a southern subspecies of white admirals and the two often hybridize in the Upper Midwest. This one’s wings show that it has survived a bird attack.

Banded hairstreaks (Satyrium calanus) lay their eggs on oak trees. This adult rests on common milkweed in our garden.

Eastern tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) favor nectar from Joe-Pye weed, blazing star and phlox.

Red admirals (Vanessa atalanta) migrate north in April and usually depart in October. Their caterpillars feed on nettles.

8 thoughts on “Butterfly Sampler

  1. August Greetings Beth!
    I love your close-up photos of all these butterflies! They are beautiful! I saw my first Eastern tiger swallowtail on Sunday flitting around my potted annuals. I did not see any on my now blooming Joe-Pye weed or phlox. They are definitely elusive and I wished I had a camera with me to capture their yellow & black beauty! Gorgeous! Thank you for all your photos and commentary. It’s like a fresh breath of summer air 😉

  2. It is so magical to see the world through your eyes! I love all the butterflies that you have shared. It encourages me to be more purposeful in watching and frankly in “slowing down” to pay attention to nature’s beauty around me. Thank you for your perfect reminders that beauty surrounds us!

  3. I just found your blog from the WP suggested items. I’m loving these butterfly photos! The white admiral is especially striking. I don’t think we have those in the west US (I’m in CA)–I only know of the Lorquins Admiral. Nice to come across another nature lover. -lisa

    • Hi Lisa, thanks so much for reading my blog! You’re correct about the white admiral. They’re usually found in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and southern Canada. Lorquin’s admiral is a new one for me! Looking forward to reading your blog. Beth

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s