Posts Tagged 'butterflies'


IMG_9518In my listing of NYC butterflies, I noted that the skippers are hard to identify. These little butterflies in the Hesperiidae family are mostly small, orangish to tawny brown, and have a tendency to look like jet planes when perched.Atalopedes campestrisThis male Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)–identification tentative–assumes the position: hindwings and forewings are separately opened at different distances from the body.Polites peckiusHere’s a Pecks Skipper (Polites peckius), I believe.Polites peckiusPeck’s with wings open?IMG_9157Not sure of this one. You’d think the plain one would be easy, right? Tawny-edged, European, Least?Epargyreus clarusThe Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), on the other wing, is distinctive. That “silver” spot always looks white in the field. This was bright bright day.

Anyway, this is the month for these critters. They are flitting and skipping all over now, but especially on nectar-rich flowers. Look for them!Atalopedes campestrisA female Sachem (Atalopedes campestris).

Butterfly Showcase

Danaus plexippusStarting to see a few Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) out and about. Danaus plexippus

Papilio polyxenesAnd the Black Swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes) are also active now. Male above, female below, I think.Papilio polyxenes

Papilio glaucusEastern Tiger Swallowtail(Papilio glaucus) female. A very conspicuous butterfly, both for her size (4-4.5″ wingspan) and her bold tiger-like patterning. Males lack the deep blue.

Vanessa virginiensisBut wait! Delaying this post has meant I keep running across more species! This American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) was spotted the other day. Close enough to touch.Vanessa virginiensis

Here, then, is every species of butterfly I’ve seen within the bounds of NYC. I only have three skippers listed, but there are certainly several more “grass skipper” species that I just can not differentiate.

Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) ? this complex is complicated!
Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) these two Colias are pretty hard to differentiate, but I think I have
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)
Eastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Duskywing (could have been Horace’s, Erynnis horatius or Juvenal’s, E. juvenalis)
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) — our most common butterfly, introduced from Europe.
Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles) ?
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
Grey Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

All my butterfly posts. Which ones are you seeing?

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.


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