Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Baltimore Checkerspot's Finest Year

Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
Baltimore Checkerspot Butterflies are having a great season. We have 2 really good habitat areas at the nature preserve and in both places the checkerspot's main food plant (turtlehead) grows in abundance. I honestly can't remember the last time I had 50 checkerspots flying around me in a meadow, but that's what has been happening over the last few days. Lots of interesting behavior was going on too; territorial males were swirling around each and ascending up to 40 feet before breaking off and returning to the ground. Females were seen fluttering their wings in place and fanning males with pheromones. A few pairs were also seen mating. It doesn't get any better than this, folks!
The female (top) was fanning her wings at the male
Two Baltimores on Swamp Milkweed - a most colorful scene
Most male Checkerspots are noticeably smaller than females
I strongly suspect that this female's swollen abdomen is full of eggs
Checkerspots were spilling out of the wetlands and into the upland fields
Common Milkweed is a real draw for nectaring butterflies
All around there were still plenty of Checkerspot Caterpillars 
This Baltimore Checkrspot larva had attached itself to a branch and was starting to shed its skin
The Baltimore Checkerspot Chrysalis is a real jewel  - we found over a dozen of them in one small area
 Each individual Checkerspot Butterfly has a unique patterns of spots
Other Butterflies around include the Striped Hairstreak, which is only as large as a nickle
The Common Wood Nymph  is common in our fields right now


  1. Dear Spring Farm CARES Nature Sanctuary,

    My name is Byron Mariani, I am a student that works for the vanEnglesdorp lab (Bee Informed Partnership), at the University of Maryland. We are looking for footage to put into a video we are making for our new Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly restoration project. I was hoping you'd allow me to use some of your videos, you will be cited of course and sent a link to our finished video.

    Byron Mariani
    University of Maryland, College Park, USA

    1. Hi Byron,
      We'd be happy to consider you request, but you need to contact me directly at: