"Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine." ~ Jeffrey GlassbergI know you must be getting tired of seeing my butterflies, but we are trying to hang on to a little summer sunshine here in the early days of fall. I have shown you many of our large visitors and thought we might look at some of the smaller varieties today. These are the butterflies that sometimes seem to show up in swarms but are small enough to be overlooked; and yet, they have the most intricate patterns and coloring that rivals that of the largest Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
First we have the Pearl Crescent, a diminutive creature with a wingspan between 1¼ and 1¾ inches. Small in size but with quite the punch of color in shades of orange, pale yellow and striking black. All along the upper side edge of the wings are small scalloped pale yellow crescents... hence the name Pearl Crescent. The underside of the wings has a lacy pattern that reminds me of the cloud tops, looking down on them from an airplane or teeny scoops of lemon custard layered one after the other. These tiny titans produce several broods between April and November in the north and may live year 'round in the deep south and Mexico. The caterpillar host plants are asters and they sip nectar from a wide variety of plants. Here we see them on the black-eyed susan, butterfly bush, heliotrope, lantana, coneflowers, milkweed, and on a really unusual but gorgeous plant... the candy lily.
The Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper is slightly smaller than the Pearl Crescent and in a different family. They have a wing-span of 1⅛ to 1½ inches. The dusty fringe on the wingtips is checkered black and white. These butterflies typically sit with their wings held together and rarely flex them open while feeding. The underwing is dark brown with a cobweb pattern in white or yellow with just a hint of mint green and the eyes are big and dark brown to black. I planted an annual heliotrope this year which had clusters of dark purple to blue flowers that give off a heavenly fragrance of cherry vanilla and these little ones loved it along with the agastache and the lantana. These Skippers are more common in North Carolina than Virginia, but we are so close to the state line that they show up here as well. I think they love the preserve with the humid air, dense wood and that horrid wild cane stuff that drives me crazy each summer. In fact, the cane is probably their caterpillar host plant, although I have never seen the caterpillars. They fly from March to September and have disappeared for the fall and winter already.
We still haven't reviewed all the butterfly species that graced our yard this summer. I would imagine that there are many of the tiny varieties that I missed entirely. As for the final report on the Monarchs. We took 80 Monarch caterpillars to the botanical gardens when I ran out of milkweed for them. I also took another 35 early instar Monarch caterpillars so they could be raised for the release that took place this morning. The botanical gardens released 300 tagged Monarchs for their migration to Mexico... may they all find wonderful nectar along the way. As for those we raised here... a total of 105 were raised and released. This is in addition to the 40 Black Swallowtail butterflies also raised and released. We had quite the nursery going this summer and on the days when ten Monarchs emerged and dried and then fluttered up around my head to flitter off to the forest... well, that was a heavenly feeling.
Saturday Photo Hunt.... "Natural"
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