Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Butterflies from WV Mountains

It has been in the nineties here for weeks to hot to garden or do nature walks. This evening I was watering the veggy garden and noticed a long thin damselfly. I caught it with my hands and carried it inside to check Ed Lam's book to be sure. It was indeed a male Slender Spreadwing the first record in Orange County in about 20 years or more! Then once I was sure of the ID I let it go outside and it flew away happily!

So here we go some of my best photos of the many species from our visit to Spruce Knob a week ago.


Pink-edged Sulphur, Colias interior on Ox-eyed Daisy
This is a northern species, it feeds on blueberries.
We saw hundreds of them on this trip what a delight, more photos below.
Pink-edged Sulphur on Red Clover.

Here we have a female albino sulphur. With these you can not tell for sure if it is a Clouded or Orange Sulphur. This was my first one this year.
Here we have an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail that has much more yellow in the hindwings than I have ever seen in our area.

Common Ringlet, Coenonympha tullia
We saw maybe 40 to 50 of these butterflies. Back in 2003 I saw thousands of them in this area. Another northern species.
Another northern species the Harris' Checkerspot, Chlosyne harrisii
Saw only 5 this trip and as you can see they were past their prime.
See my website for better photos and info on them.
The Fritillaries!
Meadow Fritillary, Boloria bellona
The smallest of our frits. This one was checking out fresh deer bones along Gandy Creek.

Normally in the eastern US fritillaries are not hard to tell apart. But given Spruce Knob has both Atlantis and Aphrodite Fritillaries telling these two apart is pretty tricky. When I took this I thought it was an Atlantis Fritillary, but a closer look leads me to Aphrodite Fritillary, Speyeria aphrodite. See my page on this species.
Above and below are Atlantis Fritillary, Speyeria Atlantis on Common Milkweed
The above photo was one of those Oh, wow photos knowing it was special before I chimped it.
If you do not know what chimping is, it is when you take a digital photos and you look at the display. See my page on these butterflies.
A Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta on Viper's Bugloss, Echium vulgare a very good nectar plant for butterflies, from Europe and Asia though....
My page on Red Admirals. 
Here is a female Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa She was laying eggs in the only willow bush at the top of Spruce Knob the highest elevation in West Virginia. That willow has always had Mourning Cloaks every time I have visited there. This one was drying off after a quick thunder shower that came in while I was photographing the Gray Comma below.
This Gray Comma, Polygonia progne was hunkering down for an approaching thunder storm. I grabbed the spruce limb and pulled it down, the big camera could not focus one handed. It was a strong limb to pull down so I got out my trusty G11 Canon point and shoot and took this photo from an inch away well over my head with one hand. BTW Meg had already fled to safety in the car, I was thinking this might be the elusive Green Comma which I have not yet seen.

Our first stop in the West Virginia mountains led  us to this rare Gray Comma above and below. It even nectared on a daisy but I failed to get a photo. We saw 4 of these at different sites over the two days were were there. Four might have doubled the number of Gray Commas I have seen.
Along Gandy Creek I found hundreds of grass skippers on these deer bones. The dark ones with lighter centers are Peck's Skippers usually 6-8 a day is a good day for them, this spot had close to one hundred of them. The other plain looking skipper is the European Skipper which we saw at least a thousand of them over the two days we were there.  If you found flowers that butterflies liked it was a sure bet European Skipper would be seen.

In case you did not notice every butterfly species shown above has a link to my pages on that species, feel free to check them out.

16 comments:

Mildred said...

What a treat to view your lovely photos tonight. Just beautiful!

Janet said...

Your photos always amaze me. The fact that you can make all these ID's with the smallest differences in detail also amazes me....guess I amaze easily. :-)
Your name came up today as I was at the research station in VA Beach, it was thick with dragonflies--- all sorts of dragonflies. I said you would be the one to ask who was who...but one really stayed still long enough for a decent picture (another feat you have conquered).

Southern Lady said...

Your photos never cease to amaze me! I love all of the detail that you capture. Hope you are staying cool in this hot weather. Carla

Chandramouli S said...

Wow! This site is an encyclopedia for butterflies and dragonflies! I'm lovin' it!

tina said...

As usual beautiful photographs. I love that you know all the types you photograph as well. I learn so much when I come here.

keewee said...

I never get tired of all your lovely photos. Thank you.

Cameron said...

Educational and beautiful!

The Tigers started fluttering out of our woods this week. I was so glad to see them appear. One has very dark, fuzzy black markings, instead of the stripes next to the body. I've not seen this before and haven't gone looking for info, yet.

Shady Gardener said...

Oh! So beautiful! I found (and photographed) a few Question Marks the other day... may not post the photos though. They were enjoying a meal from a Most Unappetizing subject matter. ;-)

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Randy, on my new monitor I can see every tiny detail on these creatures!Wonderful! Your blog is better than any textbook for those who are interested in butterflies.Thank you!

Sunita said...

Randy, what a lot of beautiful shots! I'm really in a fix as to which one I like the most. What a natural treasure to have so many butterflies in one area.
That Mourning Cloak is such a striking one but I think that Atlantis Fritillary is really special!

madcobug said...

All those butterflies are beautiful. You did some great shots of them. Helen

JRandSue said...

Wow and Wow again,outstanding collection of Butterflies.
With excellant photography.
John.

kanak7 said...

Amazing, amazing photography! I love them all!!

Doug Taron said...

What a great series of boreal species. I know Colias interior from the White Mountains of N32 Hampshire. It's been years since I've seen one.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I am pleased that I've seen several kinds of butterflies this year, but not nearly as many as what you've seen.

sweet bay said...

A beautiful assortment of butterflies. Really love the shots of the Atlantis Fritillary!