Sunday, October 23, 2016

AN EDUCATION IN BUTTERFLIES

The garden is alive with butterflies, the result of all those caterpillars which have been feeding on my garden. Plants that have never seen a caterpillar before, like the American pokeweed...eaten to lacework.
I spent yesterday afternoon chasing them around the garden with my camera. Some are easy and some impossible to capture.
The monarch, Danaus plexippus, seen here feeding on the gomphrena 'fireworks' The monarch is the Texas state butterfly.


The Julia heleconian, Dryas iulia feeding on the lantana.


The beautiful queen, Danaus gilipus, feeding on Greg's mist flower.


Skippers galore. I think this one is a Southern Broken-dash, Wallengrenia otho feeding on gomphrena. Or is it a fiery skipper? That was my first ID.


A bordered patch, Chlosyne lacinia, well camouflaged on the yellow narrow leaf zinnia.


This one may be the marbled white, Melanargia galanthea. common checkered skipper , Pyrgus communis.


I am just beginning to realize that identifying butterflies is no easier than identifying birds. I planned to do some more camera sleuthing today but the wind made it impossible. I chased a yellow, an orange and a swallowtail around the garden but they never landed. Then I had to rescue 3 butterflies from the greenhouse. That took some time. Maybe I will add to my collection this week.

Just added his website which might help to identify butterflies from this area. It just made me realize how difficult it is to identify them. Butterfly Indentification for south Texas

13 comments:

  1. How lovely and thank you for the Skipper ID! Your garden is so alive with bees, butterflies, and beauty--always.

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    1. Some of these are tentative IDs. The skipper I had first as Fiery skipper and then changed my mind. Maybe someone will set me straight. Hence my comment about being similar to IDing birds. Not always easy.

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    2. No, not always easy.

      I think you were right the first time: fiery skipper, incidentally the most common one in my garden.

      ID hints for a fiery skipper.

      If you ever get to see the undersides of the wings, it has small gray spots, measles, unique to this species.

      The other qualifying characteristic is very wavy or toothed (I'd say "jagged") black margins on the trailing edges of the upperside of the wings of the males.
      Fiery skippers are variable.

      http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-species-page.asp?sp=Hylephila-phyleus

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    3. This is harder that I thought. I looked at all the different skippers and threw my hands up. Probably should not have even tried to ID.

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    4. Oh, always try. If not how will you learn?

      Most people don't even try with skippers, sparrows and gulls. Sea gull, eek! LBJs = little brown jobs, also eek!

      You tried and now you know how to ID a fiery skipper.

      I find the range maps most helpful, then the larval food plants, and then the characteristics. See, easy.



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  2. You have so many beautiful blooms and it's good to see lots of flying beauties as well. Good luck on photographing. What a glorious way to spend a day!
    :)

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  3. Nice post, I'd been calling the bordered patch a painted lady all week and now I see they are very different. Since you have this down now, I posted one on facebook that my searching is not turning up a match for.

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    1. The one on facebook was one I was trying to get. I am pretty sure it is a Common mestra.

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  4. Hello, I find butterflies very difficult to photograph also. I admire the patience of those who get perfect pictures of them.

    Lantana is the best butterfly attractor in my southern California garden.


    Just so you know for next time, skippers have clubbed antenna while butterflies do not. You can see the clubbed antenna in your picture of marbled white. Using the range maps in my butterfly books, I am pretty sure that this is a common checkered-skipper, Pyrgus communis

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    1. That is a useful tool for identification. Thanks for setting me straight. I wasn't totally happy with the id. Like I said just like birds.

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  5. Whatever their names, you have a nice mix of butterflies. I've seen relatively few here this year, although the sulphur butterflies (Phoebis sennae) showed up on schedule when my Senna bicapsularis burst into bloom earlier this month.

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  6. It's been a great year for the pollinators here in Central Texas, so many to learn...

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  7. Good work! Not only do you have some lovely photos of butterflies, but you are easing the idea that in order to post a photo we must be absolutely positive of the ID. I for one am rarely sure of the accurate names for many of the winged creatures I admire, but I am always happy to see them.

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