Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Butterflies at the Fen

Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton)

Early July is the height of butterfly diversity at Bluff Spring Fen. I ran my monitoring route this afternoon and in an hour and a half, I recorded 101 butterflies from 19 different species. I've started a project where I'm staying after my route and trying to photograph the varius species that I'm seeing. This is because I'm trying to convert all of my talks from slide show format to PowerPoint. I could just scan my old slides, but I'll get much better image quality if I take my new camera out with me and take a bunch of photos.

More Baltimore Checkerspot!

The main butterfly event at the Fen is the large population of Baltimore Checkerspots that lives there. They're one of my favorite butterflies- how can you not fall in love with something that beautiful? Ever since I was a little boy, I've been captivated by the red and yellow spots on the velvety black background. I've blogged about this species before. I'm not yet happy with the upper side photo, but it gives a good idea of what the butterfly looks like. Eventually I'll get a shot that I'm happy with.

Black Dash (Euphyes conspicua)

The Black Dash Skipper is another wetland specialist. I love that this species is so predictable. A week ago, I saw none. I knew I'd be seeing some this week, the first ones always show up right about the Fourth of July. I took a couple of dozen photos and managed to get a few that I liked.

Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)

Coral Hairstreak (Harkenclenus titus)

I saw three different hairstreak species today. The Banded Hairstreak lives in the oak woods. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves. It spends a lot of time up in the canopy. I have a feeling that we significantly undercount it in our butterfly surveys. The Coral Hairstreak likes prairie edges. The vast majority of the time I find it, it's on butterfly milkweed, as it is here.

I didn't take a picture of the third hairstreak that I saw, because it wasn't a very good specimen. But I was very glad to see it. The Acadian Hairstreak (Satyrium acadica) hasn't been seen at Bluff Spring Fen since 2004. I was afraid we had lost it, so it's really good to see that it's still around.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

Most of the butterflies that I see at the Fen are common species like this Eastern Comma and Mourning Cloak. You don't have to go someplace special to see them. Still, I'm trying to get a more complete collection of digital images, so I'm not about to pass up good photo opportunities. The results this time around were a mixed bag in terms of quality, but I'm reasonably happy over all. Getting a couple of shots that I'm pleased with when I venture out like this feeels like progress to me.

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At 20:07, Blogger Ur-spo said...

what lovely photos, as usual.

At 20:28, Blogger Randy Emmitt said...

Nice collection of butterflies. I have been shooting butterflies for 12 or so years now myself. Stumbled into a Baltimore Checkerspots a couple of years ago in Tennessee.

At 20:40, Blogger JWPboss said...

Beautiful photos of a rich array of butterflies. How long will the Baltimores be around?

At 20:40, Blogger Shelly Cox said...

Beautiful images. The Baltimore Checkerspot is lovely, I've never seen one before and I can see why they are one of your favorites.

At 21:01, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- Thank you.

Randy- Welcome to the Tapestry. I checked your blog out- nice. I am not terribly familiar with the butterfly fauna in your part of the world.

Dennis- Thanks. I will occasionally see a stray Baltimore as late as the first of August, but they will be in significant decline over the next 2 weeks.

MObgs- Thanks, and welcome to the Tapestry. There are Baltimores in Missouri, though a different subspecies. Some folks consider it an entirely different species. In addition to being beautiful, it's also a butterfly that holds some childhood memories for me.

At 10:51, Blogger robin andrea said...

Love that Baltimore checkerspot. I'm not sure if we get them out west. I'll have to do a little research. I'm always glad to see even the common butterflies when we're out and hiking around.

At 01:51, Blogger Marvin said...

I enjoyed your photos, Doug. The Baltimore Checkerspot is, indeed, beautiful.

At 05:18, Blogger SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

More wonderful shots of these lovely butterflies Doug. Thanks for posting them.

At 14:01, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Nice work out there. That Black Dash has a neat color....

At 13:00, Blogger Steve Borichevsky said...

Wonderful butterfly work. I know how you feel about the scanning. I have 2000 slide of birds, but we can take heart that we can always capture more.

At 13:22, Blogger rodger said...

Nice shots Doug. I have all kinds of trouble shooting butterflies, they won't sit still long enough to get a good shot. Of course most of what we have are common...they're still beautiful.

At 16:43, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Robin- You are too far west for Baltimore Checkerspots. They don't even get as far west as the Rockies.

Marvin- Thanks. Are you in the Ozarks? There's another subspecies that lives out that way.

Joan- Thanks. This is the fun time of year.

Dave- I was especially happy with the Black Dash photo. They are skittish and can be difficult to approach.

Steve- I agree. More and more, I find myself wondering what we did before digital.

Rodger- You have some nice species out your way. The not sitting still thing can be an issue. I think the thing that changes the most with practice is learning how to approach them so that you can get close without spooking them.

At 01:46, Blogger Kathie Brown said...

Doug, these are all beautiful. The detail on the black dash is amazing. I love the coloring on the checkerspot and the mourning cloak. I am seeing small yellow butterflies on my yellow bells here. The monsoon is on and the temps are soaring. You will be here soon, will you not?

At 16:52, Blogger Texas Travelers said...

Great butterflies all and fantastic photos to show them off.



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