First violet of my spring takes a bow, making a face in the rain. Does it look like an alien to you? Violets are hosts for local butterflies! They make fun people food too! But instead of eating them, I am watching all my violets for the first butterfly!
She (ID book didn’t distinguish sex) may be old and faded but this painted lady is in pretty good shape for her age and is still here in mid-October. Maybe she’ll hang around until the first frost. I watched one fly low over the lawn, glowing in the sunlight as it searched for sorrel, followed faithfully by a little orange skipper.
This fritillary would make a perfect stained glass project!
Check out what remains of the swallowtails and the rear wing edges of this old female tiger swallowtail. (You recognize a female because she wears a blue skirt.)
Here is the back edge of her faded and torn front wing.
And here she is, her whole self, happily feasting on butterfly bush blossoms. Look closely at the next butterfly you see. Check for damage. Sometimes you’ll find a butterfly well able to fly in spite of having lost most of a rear wing to a bird that missed its juicy body.
This Monarch butterfly is a boy! You can tell because there is a small black dot on his hindwing (lower wing). Look for it on the narrow vein close to the butterfly’s abdomen (back end of his body). Who ever thought sexing butterflies could be so easy?
Here is a shot of the underside of the hindwing. This Monarch is enjoying nectar from wing stem sunflowers. Find some tasty flowers and enjoy butterfly watching while the weather is still warm and wonderful.
This is a red spotted purple butterfly. FYI: it is not dead. I chased it around the road and barely managed to capture this out of focus shot. It mimics the poisonous pipe vine swallowtail and is known to interbreed successfully with the white admiral. The underside of the hind wings have wonderful red spots but I have no idea where the purple is.
My granddaughters discovered that Painted Lady butterflies love chive blossoms! There are several popular orange butterflies, including Monarchs and Red Admirals. To identify the Painted Lady, watch for orange wings with black spots and dramatic black tips with white polka dots on front wings.
Not a large butterfly, the underside of the wings is more of a challenge. But you don’t need to wait very long for a butterfly to open its wings for you. And don’t give up too quickly if the butterfly flies away when you approach. There’s a good chance it will soon return to the flowers it was enjoying when you discovered it.