Thursday, September 10, 2009

South Carolina Butterfly Trip

Last weekend Meg and I ventured into coastal South Carolina to do two butterfly counts I've wanted to do for over 10 years.

On Saturday we did the count in Georgetown County and we explored our way into Samworth Wildlife management Area. We found lots of butterflies and I found myself face to face with a Viceroy/Red-spotted Purple hybrid and the camera was in the car! I ran the fifty feet to the car and a huge truck went by and this hybrid took flight and never landed again. I'd seen photos of one found in Georgia back in 2004 and forgot about it. This hybrid had orange Viceroy hindwings and Purplish forewings that resembled the Red-spotted Purple. They are close relatives and both caterpillars feed on willows and look alike.

On Sunday Meg and I helped with the Francis Marion Butterfly Count. We hoped to find the first ever Dotted Skipper on the count but failed to find any. Amazingly we saw almost 500 Little Yellow butterflies, in NC 4-5 is a great number of these southern migrants.

Little Metalmark, Calephelis virginiensis These tiny butterflies always steal the show. We found three of them in Francis Marion National Forest. I'm corrected I found two and Meg found the big fresh one. These are small just a 1/2 to 3/4 inch wingspan and you have to be looking hard to find them. Lucky for use all the ones we found were along the roadside. These used to be not too hard to find in Croatan National Forest in NC, but are getting rarer and rarer every year.

Notice the foil like shimmer on the tiny bands along the wing edges, you have to see it in just the right light. Never seen these on "trash" plants like this Lespedeza, usually you find them on native plants in the pine woods.

Tropical Checkered Skipper, Pyrgus oileus We found 16 of these in Francis Marion National Forest, others found them as well. Never in almost 20 years of holding the Francis Marion Butterfly Count had they ever found them. I'm pretty sure the Count broke a state record high count on these. No recent records in North Carolina at all, maybe we'll have them soon, moving up from Florida.

Here is a male Yehl Skipper, Poanes yehl I had not seen one of these in two or three years. These photos are much better than what I have on my main web site.

Time to get away from this big eye staring at me!

See Ya!! Yeah right....

Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae These were fairly common, they tend to travel a good bit.

We saw at least 4-5 of these Green Treefrogs perched just like this.

Palamedes Swallowtail, Papilio palamedes We saw maybe 200 of these large swallowtails, on a good year 1000s can be seen in a day.

Here is a twin-spot Skipper, Oligoria maculata on Liatris Graminifolia
This Blazing Star is likely the best butterfly attractor in the pine woods.

OK and the guest dragonfly two different male Roseate Skimmers, Orthemis ferruginea
The pink body is normal for mature males on the east coast. These are coastal so I rarely see these. I found one in coastal Virginia back in 2004, it was the second record of this species in Virginia, the first records was just 2 weeks before mine..

Duh, I thought this was a Needham's Skimmer, but the thorax later showed it to be a male Roseate Skimmer.


Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Hi Randy! Your pictures always take me to another world! I understand nothing in butterflies, but I can tell that they are wonderful creatures. Thanks to you, I saw a purplish dragonfly, first time in my life.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Randy, Thank you for sharing these exquisite photos. Your weekend sounds very rewarding.

Janet said...

I will have to keep my eyes open when we get to our new place in SC to see what butterflies we will be having.
Meg- keep him straight! Credit where credit is due! :-D

WiseAcre said...

Nice roundup. I especially liked the Yehl taking flight. The Palamedes Swallowtail is gorgeous and the links to more photos of them appreciated.

I may be back asking for some ID assistance. I haven't given up trying to name a dragonfly and a couple of butterflies similar to the tiny metalmark. (the search for identity is almost as much fun as the hunt to photograph them)

Michelle said...

Randy, your photos are superb! Thanks for sharing.

sweet bay said...

Great pictures Randy. I haven't seen a Roseate Skimmer before, what a beautiful dragonfly.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Randy....I need to spend more time here. Your photos are superb!! The Metalmarks are very pretty. I haven't seen anything like these here. Your dragonfly photos are gorgeous!

You're right about the dragonfly photo on my blog. It does resemble the Roseate Skimmer. From the website I usually refer to (, I found out that it's called "Orthethrum pruinosum neglectum".

Have a wonderful weekend! It's always such a treat to look at your pictures.

Ali Iyoob said...

Very nice shots, especially of the Little Metalmark!

GetSoiled said...

Oh man. A butterfly trip??? HEAVEN! Amazing shots you got there! I particularly love how clear and defined the butterflies' antenae look...

DK Miller said...

wow what lovely butterflies and dragonflies. All the photos are wonderful! I do want to see your Monarchs now.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

As ever your photos are a treat.

I only realised this year what butterflies can bring to the garden in terms of movement and beauty.

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous butterfly images Randy.

Q said...

I still have not seen a metalmark!!!
I'll keep looking. Your photos are wonderful....