Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

Great Spangled Fritillary

Speyeria cybeleA name that should always be said in a W.C. Fields’ voice.Speyeria cybeleSpeyeria cybele.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Papilio glaucusThe insects are definitely out and about. I had half a dozen mosquito bites Saturday night, all inside the assumed safety of my well-screened apartment. But let’s highlight some living invertebrates this week, starting with the always stunning Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Unmistakably big and yellow, right? This is a female, with much more blue than the male. However, there’s a female version further south that mimics the Pipevine Swallowtail, so it is much darker, with virtually no yellow at all.

This one was all over the place, but paying particular attention to a young magnolia, one of their host species. I was looking for evidence of egg-laying but did not see it.

Here’s a late instar or stage of the caterpillar for this species.

Azures and Beauties of Spring

Celastrina ladonA tiny butterfly with lovely blue wings — on the inside, anyway, meaning you only see the color when they fly.Celastrina ladonHere’s a pair making more. Quite a complicated taxonomy, evidently.

So that was last week. This week I saw only a few of the Azures flitting about. That precious blue!

But this week, there were plenty of Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) to be had.Claytonia virginicaHad in the optical sense, of course.Claytonia virginica

Cloak and Dagger

Nymphalis antiopaMourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) in the flowers of an early blooming crab apple (Malus). Actually, on second viewing, this seems to be a cherry (Prunus). Nymphalis antiopaThe butterfly’s long tongue, rather like an oil derrick, or a dagger, plunging into the heart of the nectar.

Seems like a good year for Mourning Cloaks. Note that this one has a big chunk out of its wings. They get beat up during their long lives. Among other butterflies so far, I’ve had a brief look at what I think must have been one of the Polygonia species. On the day I took the above photos, I saw a couple of Cabbage Whites.

Mourning Cloaks

Nymphalis antiopaNymphalis antiopaNymphalis antiopaThe forest at NYBG was full of Mourning Cloaks over the weekend. Some were butterfly-flitting about and some were perched in the sun.

Nymphalis antiopa

Nymphalis antiopaMy first butterfly of the year, the not unexpected Mourning Cloak, soaking up the sun in Green-Wood Cemetery today. The velvety wings dotted with blue/purple spots and edged in gilt are a most welcome sight.Nymphalis antiopaThis may be our longest-lived species of butterfly, 10-11 months as an adult. They tuck themselves away somewhere to overwinter — perhaps under some bark, that sounds comfy — and are usually the first butterflies seen flying in the early spring. The sighting reports here have one in the middle of January in Michigan, so maybe March 9th isn’t so impressive as a date here in Brooklyn, but it sure is nice seeing something without a backbone flying after all these months.


Danaus plexippusThe air above Fort Tilden’s narrow reach was full of Tree Swallows and, to a lesser extent, Monarch Butterflies. The Monarchs were being pushed hard towards the east in the breeze. We saw about a dozen of them. One was quite high, noticed as we watched a Peregrine on patrol way up there.Danaus plexippusDanaus plexippus. Some were still eating. This is a good reminder that, this late in the year, there’s are no milkweeds in bloom around here. But the goldenrods are ripe, tiny little suns of nectar and pollen.


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