Monday, April 15, 2013

The Butterfly season begins.

Warning! Viewing these photos could make you earnestly long for spring and strike out for early season butterflying.  Sane people do not look for butterflies in winter coat weather.  Now that we have established a definition of sane, we know that my friends and I fall through that crack.

Henry's Elfin, Callophrys henrici
 So who is Henry, and why does he rate a butterfly? That I do not know.

We do know it is one of our earliest butterflies, it is no bigger than a dime, and tends to be southern in Ohio.  It is common, locally.  Which means you can see numerous Henry's, if you find one.  You should look for them where you find naturally occurring stands of Eastern Redbud.

The bud on Eastern Redbud
 Henry's lay their eggs on the buds of Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis.  The adults emerge in time to mate and lay eggs on the flower buds. Butterflies emergence is not timed with the calendar as much as it is timed with phenology, or the blooming of plants.  The Redbuds are late to bloom this year, and you can bet the Henry's are perfectly timed with them.  That is how nature works.

Male Falcate Orange-tip, Anthocharis midea
 Falcate Orange-tip is of the butterfly Family Pieridae (the whites and yellows.)

This early spring emergent is a feast for the eyes, at least the boldly marked males are.

Female Falcate Organe-tip
 The females could be easily overlooked.  They are smaller versions of a Common Cabbage White, with an odd mottled coloring to their hindwings.

Mated Falcate Orange-tips, Male left, female right
Both male and female have the mottled underwing, but you will rarely see it.  In fact, this is the only time I have photographed the underwing.  It is difficult, if not down right impossible to get decent photographs of this hyper-active species.  The cold weather worked in our favor; these poor butterflies were moving in slow motion due to the chilly temps.

It is a rarity to find butterfly seekers in cold weather gear, but here we are: the Ohio Lepidopterists' sub-group called B.O.G. (Butterfly Observers Group.)  We watch, photograph, document and celebrate butterflies.

But we never, never pin.   Wishing you a great day in the field, even when you have to wear a jacket!

1 comment:

  1. There were at least two Henry's Elfins and at least a dozen Falcate Orange-tips along the Buzzardroost Rock trail in Adams County today. And the freshest-looking Juniper Hairstreak I've ever seen (which makes sense, since it can't have been out for very long).