Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Week of Butterflies

The butterflies have finally started to show up this week, all of them appearing to be recently emerged from their chrysalises. I even saw a Monarch, but of course it floated away before I could even think about getting the camera out. It's fascinating to notice how the butterflies come and go throughout the season, different generations in different stages of their life, and how different species show up in different years. For example, last year we saw record numbers of Buckeyes, but only one so far this year, I can only wonder why. Trying to get decent photos of butterflies is always a challenge, they never stop moving and won't let you get very close, but I always enjoy trying. Here's a sampling of the butterflies in our yard this week:

A Painted Lady, on Anise Hyssop "Blue Fortune".

Notice how almost all the insects in my photos are on Anise Hyssop? It's a very popular plant.

A Spicebush Swallowtail in the early morning, the only way I could get this close.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at dusk. This particular fellow hung around for hours on this same plant, the whole time I was making dinner and the whole time while we were eating. The flower bed is right outside the door which made watching him easy. He was immaculate, I imagined he had just emerged from his chrysalis and was having his first meal.

No surprise, he likes Anise Hyssop!

The Silvery Checkerspots also made their appearance this week. Considering how many caterpillars we saw back in the spring (a lot!) they should be everywhere.

These guys are quite small, barely 2 inches across, and look very similar to Pearl Crescents. This guy managed to find some coneflowers that still had some juice in them.

A Grey Hairstreak on Rudbeckia laciniata "Herbstsonne".

Dear readers:
*What Butterflies are you guys seeing where you live?*
*What are the plants in your yard that seem to be the most attractive to them?*


  1. Ah, what gorgeous pictures! I hope some of these guys are flying through my garden but I don't always see them. My anise hyssop is out by the mailbox so I don't see it much. I have noticed the goldfinches mining it for seeds lately.

    I found a new to me caterpillar today - Agreeable Tiger Moth. The adult is really quite agreeable looking! It was munching on a mushroom, which apparently they do sometimes.

  2. I have been seeing pretty much the same types and numbers of butterflies. Perhaps it's because were married, live together and I work about a half mile from home? Just a theory.

  3. I love checkerspots. Thanks for catching one for me this week!

  4. Butterflies have been unusually sparse this year. Have seen a few monarchs, black and tiger swallowtails, red admirals, sulphurs, and painted ladies. The monarchs and red admirals have been the most common, but all have beeen pretty few and far between.

    I also love anise hyssop, it's a great plant.

  5. Ellen- That's very interesting about the Agreeable Tiger Moth caterpillar munching on mushrooms, I've often seen mushrooms that look like they've been slightly nibbled on but couldn't imagine what could have done it. The moth itself is beautiful.

    RK Young- Keep your eyes open, I bet you'll see some down your way!

    Jason- Thanks for sharing, it's interesting that even out where you are numbers still seem low for this year.

  6. I see a TON of skippers on both the calendula and the zinnias.

    (Of course, they're not flashy or beautiful particularly, but they ARE butterflies!)

    I'm not good with butterfly ID yet. I've seen orange butterflies (not sure if they're Monarchs) and black ones. Maybe the spicebush swallowtail...

  7. Very nice butterfly pictures!

    My theory on the new hatch is that we recently got some of those summer popcorn showers, and the plants are all covered with new blooms, the butterflies all emerged to take advantage of the new food source.

    It could just as easily be a timing thing to coincide with the likeliness of the new summer blooms that we would get now...

    Sorry that you're not seeing buckeyes. I wonder if there's a problem with the agalinis over your way...

    When the day is cool and breezy, it seems like the butterflies are more energetic. When it's hot and still, I can get multiples in the pic...