Monday, September 20, 2010

Not the normal diet for this one!


I have been watching and photographing butterflies for 13 years now. Only once before have I seen a Tawny Emperor nectaring on flowers! The first one was a female and the field guide I was carrying at the time did not show the female which is slightly different than the male. Notice the rounded hindwings, the males hingwings curve in slightly. Another field guide I have has a female and male photo, but it notes it as a variation in the species, not as a male and female. A beginner might mistake the Variegated Fritillary from above for this female.

Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton nectaring on bidens from Sunday!
The normal diet for these butterflies  is tree sap, rotten fruit, carrion and dung.
This species is perhaps uncommon most of the time, some years it is common here. This year seems to be the second best year for them in the time I have been seeing them.

I also wanted to share the list of butterflies I found on a 2 hour walk on Sunday at the Flat River Impoundments in Durham, NC. Right now there is more than 20 acres of bidens in bloom and the butterflies are hopping!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 6
Spicebush Swallowtail 1 fresh
Cabbage White 1
Colias albino 1
Cloudless Sulphur40
Sleepy Orange 25 and maybe 20 cats on sicklepod
Eastern Tailed Blue 5
Summer Azure 1
Variegated Fritillary 14
Great Spangled Fritillary 1 very worn
Pearl Crescent 40+
Question Mark 2
Red Admiral 2
Common Buckeye 80+
Red-spotted Purple 8
Viceroy 30+ seemed to be everywhere!
Hackberry Emperor 30+
Tawny Emperor 8
Carolina Satyr 6
Applachian Brown 1
Monarch 24 mostly on bidens
Least Skipper 3
Zabulon Skipper 2 males


Friend of HK said...

A nice capture! Love your butterfly photos. The species are so different from what we see in Hong Kong, where I live.

Carol said...

Oh Randy! Within a two hour walk you saw that many butterflies! I have never had that kind of experience. With exception to the Pearl Crescents. I did have hundreds for a few days all over the gooseneck... it was magic and I have a post you just reminded me of. Once I had 30 Monarchs and postponed my trip to North Truro! They were covering sedum. Gosh I would love to walk with you and Meg someday! 331 . . . I had to count them might be off by some . . . butterflies on a walk!! Astonishing! What a day. As for the Tawny Emperor . . . I do hope the female is leading the way towards a more cultivated diet. Bidens are an improvement. Maybe she had just had it with the yucky juices. It is great when wildlife surprises us . . . not always so predictable. Spectacular photo!!

ShySongbird said...

It is a lovely butterfly which I have never heard of. What an amazing list of butterflies you saw in just two hours! I would be lucky to see four or five different types in that time.

Kimberly said...

Your knowledge of butterflies is quite impressive! Great photo. I'm happy to see that this one is enjoying some sweet nector instead of carrion or dung. :D

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, you sure know where to go to find lots of butterflies! How cool you saw that butterfly on a flower, where it doesn't normally feed.

Thanks for letting me know I was right about the spreadwing damselfly.

I saw a hummingbird a couple times yesterday, and got a few shots, none that turned out the best, but I'm going to post at least one Saturday, because I was so excited to see it.

Just Jenn said...

How wonderfully lucky of you!

Benjamin Vogt said...

I have tried to get bidens to grow here from seed for two years and no go. I've heard the wonder of them and the insects they draw in. 20 acres of it? I bet that's a sight!

Skeeter said...

I really do like the way the flash makes the butterflys glow! No neon sign could match the natural beauty of nature...

I saw a bee on the head of a dead dragonfly yesterday! It looked as though the bee was eating the dragonfly. Is this normal? I thought of you when seeing this. Not eating the head but the dragonfly of course...

Q said...

Nice butterflying! It has been a wonderful summer here for butterflies.
Thank you for the info on the Tawny. I have seen a few females this summer they do look like Variegated Fritillaries.

Shady Gardener said...

You're right, Randy. I'd make the error. However, I'm always glad for your help! And didn't you have a wonderful time spotting that entire list of butterflies?? :-)

Ali Iyoob said...

This has been a crazy year for Tawny Emps here, I have had counts up to 15, and have seen as many as 3 nectaring on lantana at the same time!