Friday, August 17, 2012

Chasing Butterflies

The zinnias in our flower garden have seen better days. Between the drought we've had and the goldfinches snacking on them, they look a bit ragged. But the butterflies don't seem to mind. Nearly every day I've noticed several species of butterflies feeding on their nectar.

Butterflies are tough to photograph! Every time I'd get close enough to snap a photo, they'd flit away, on to the next flower. You should have seen me chasing these butterflies around the garden, asking, "Please stay still, little butterfly." I'm glad no one (except my dog) saw me carrying on like this. 

According to information I found online, the pretty butterfly below is a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a common species. See the chunk missing on her left wing? She might have had a run-in with a would-be predator, but she survived.
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There are so many species of butterflies, making it difficult for the novice butterfly watcher to identify them. I found the website Butterflies and Moths of North America and tried to identify the one below, but no luck. Then my husband reminded me that our neighbor three doors down is an entomologist. I emailed her these photos and asked for assistance.  The one below, with the four "eyes" on the underside of its wing, is a Painted Lady. She sure did move around a lot more, plus it was a windy day, making it even more difficult to focus.
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The little one below was very hard to photograph. It took off whenever I got close. I thought it might be a skipper so I looked at the butterfly website and thought it might be a Southern Broken-Dash Skipper. My friend asked if I had seen a silver band or spot on the underside of its wing, which would suggest it's a Silver-spotted Skipper, but I did not see a silver spot, so a Southern Broken-Dash Skipper seems more likely. 

Suddenly I am very interested in butterfly identification. My friend recommended the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies by Paul Opler. I think I'll make a trip to the bookstore for a copy of it.
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5 comments:

  1. Identifying them would be so much easier if they sat still for a minute. They're always so busy.

    It also seems that there are a lot of them this year...or maybe my weeds are finally coming in to their own.

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  2. Stunning. I wish I had a neighbour who is an entymologist. How chic. :D

    I am noticing lots of small butterflies in our garden this week. I do not know one from the other.

    P.S. Sounds like you are overdue for a trip to Paris. Sometimes I get weary there after a week - it can be emotionally draining, all that beauty - but then we go out of the city and do something interesting and come home satiated. Then a year later I am craving it again.

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  3. Claudia, I'm laughing as I've been outside trying to photograph them. No luck here. I also thought I was quick enough for the hummingbirds: negative!! All I got were mosquito bites. Your photos are beautiful.
    Cheers,
    Loi

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  4. Butterflies never fail to amaze me. I can't look at their bodies without being awed by the former caterpillar. ♥

    These are pretty pictures, you should be proud! It is hard to get action shots in the garden. I saw a Hummingbird flit up into one of the bells of a Foxglove once, and I still wish I could have gotten a photo. These are lovely--and so sunny! :)

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  5. I love this post and these great photographs! I try for shots of the butterflies AND the hummingbirds and have failed this summer but yours are quite beautiful. I have Peterson's guide, quite astounding the variety of butterflies that Mother Nature created. Our bird feeders are requiring every other day refills, lots of finches and cardinals flitting about the yard, the border is full of butterflies and hummingbirds...I love summer!

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