There have been good numbers of Monarch Butterflies coming through the nature preserve over the past week. The majority are pouring out of Canada and passing through our region on route to Mexico. The timing is no accident, since just about all of our open meadows are at peak bloom for Goldenrod and many asters. These flowers are attracting the Monarchs like magnets.Walking through one of these fields the other day, I had Monarchs flying up in front of me with practically every other step. Some were cooperative enough for me to get some pictures of them.
|A male Monarch feeds on Green-headed Coneflower|
|Monarch on New England Aster|
|A Pair of Viceroy Butterflies mating|
|A male Eastern-tailed Blue Butterfly perches on a Raspberry leaf|
Flying low to the ground and looking more like innocuous tiny moths, are the Eastern-tailed Blue butterflies. If you follow one to its landing perch, you have a good chance of seeing it open its wings. If it’s a male, you’d get to see vivid iridescent blue topwings. Female Eastern-tailed Blue Butterflies have much darker –almost black topwings.
The Least Skipper has also been seen around the preserve lately.
This is another tiny and easy to miss butterfly that flies very close to the
ground. It’s often hard to distinguish from the astoundingly common European
Skipper. Both have orange topwings with brown or black on the wing margins.
The underwings have no pattern and just appear dull orange. In our area, the
Least Skipper is more likely to be seen in this late part of the summer, while
the European Skipper is at its most Abundant in late spring and early summer.
Other butterflies that have been making an appearance at the
nature preserve include the Red Admiral. This dark butterfly with bold red
“admiral” stripes is the species that became so incredibly common in the
spring. That unprecedented migration helped to introduce the Admiral to many
who hadn’t seen it before. This time of year, they are not nearly that abundant,
but a few, likely descendants from the big spring flight, are around to take
advantage of plentiful late summer flowers.
|The Least Skipper is our smallest butterfly|
|The Red Admiral feeds on nectar from a Goldenrod flower|
|The Questionmark Butterfly - note the silvered question-mark spot in the center of the underwing|