Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

Lepidoptera Lowdown

A veritable blizzard of Lepidoptera over a patch of ground-loving Buddleja last week. img_9900Lots of skippers skipping. This is a male Sachem (Atalopedes campestris), I think. img_9898Several sulphurs ever so briefly alighting. This is purported to be a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)… probably: Orange and Clouded can mix it up genetically, so these are hard to differentiate; perhaps the species definition should incorporate them both? One of them had an intense orange to its inner wings. Junonia coeniaA common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) showing a lot of late season wear and tear. A bird attack? Helicoverpa zeaAnd a lone moth, Helicoverpa zea, the Corn Earworm, obviously named for its caterpillar form. Most moths are active at night, which is why this blog is so notably absent in them; also, they’re hard to identify, not least because they are so many of them: there 11,000 species currently recognized in North America. helped me with this ID. Curiously, this individual was chased by groups of several skippers, as if they really did not want the competition.

Monarch II

Danaus plexippus

Danaus plexippus

Danaus plexippus

One Singular Sensation

Danaus plexippusI have not seen a Monarch caterpillar in New York City since 2010. Now, I haven’t been actively surveying for them, but whenever I see milkweed, I do look closer. Danaus plexippusSix years is way, way too long a period to go without. As you probably know, Monarch have taken a severe beating from habitat destruction and climate change. This year is forecast to be another bad year for them. For the adult, butterfly, stage, I rarely see more than one or two a day in season.Danaus plexippusSo even seeing one is heartening. And yesterday I saw precisely one, munching steadily away.Danaus plexippus(These were my phone pictures; I have a few more on my camera which I’ll post in a couple of days.)monInternet comrade Erin out on the other end of this long island has been raising a herd of Monarchs this summer, documenting their stages from egg to chrysalis and beyond. Check out her IG for pictures still and moving.

Question Mark

Polygonia interrogationisThere are two comma or anglewing butterflies of the Polygonia genus we see regularly here in NYC. You can tell them apart when their wings are spread, but it’s subtle.Polygonia interrogationisBut they often perch upright. So the namesake comma mark on the hindwing is the tell-all. Of course, this is hard to see in the field!Polygonia interrogationisThe fabled question mark. You won’t be the first grammarian to say it looks more like a semi-colon.

This example is perched distantly on some Duckweed, in case you are wondering about the curious pebbly-look of the background.


Poanes zabulonPoanes zabulon,the Zabulon Skipper. A male.

You really have to get up close and personal to the skippers to tell them apart. And that usually takes some optical enhancement, although if you should find yourself sitting quietly next to a lot of pollinator-magnets they may be too busy to pay you any attention.

Two of Our Smallest Butterflies

Cupido comyntasEastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas). Nice to see the pale blue here, for it usually perches like this:Cupido comyntasThis is a male. Females are browner. I must say, my field guide suggests a much darker blue, but the harsh sunlight here is bleaching everything out. The tiny trailing “tails” can be seen emerging just below the lower orange spot.Cupido comyntasHere’s another specimen.These are roughly the size of a dime. ErynnisAnd this is one of the duskywings, Horace’s (Erynnis horatius) I think. Very similar to Juvenal’s Duskywing. Here’s another photograph of these small puzzlers; much depends on the light.

Where It’s Happening

IMG_9531Ironweed. Monarch and Skipper.


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