Archive for the ‘butterflies and moths’ Category

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

September 5, 2017

Several Black Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio polyxenes) were spotted on 30 August 20017 during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

The following individual is a male. All of the Black Swallowtails that I observed seemed to be quite skittish, including this guy. He flew away every time I approached him slowly. I noticed that he returned to nearly the same spot after a lot of fluttering around, so I moved to a position from which I could shoot his photo without moving.

108mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent) | ISO 100 | f/8 | 1/800s | -3 ev

Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is your friend when shooting high-contrast subjects like this Black Swallowtail. It is usually possible to pull detail from underexposed shadows. On the other hand, detail is lost when the highlights are “blown out.” What’s the solution? Expose for the shadows and use exposure compensation to capture detail in the highlights.

Related Resource: The exposure triangle and exposure compensation

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Warming up

June 3, 2017

Faithful followers of my photoblog know I’m all about the odonates, that is, dragonflies and damselflies. But hey, I’m an equal opportunity wildlife photographer so when the ode-hunting starts slowly — as it did on this day — I like to “warm up” by shooting a few photos of anything that catches my eye.

03 MAY 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (male)

Like this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) that was spotted along Pope’s Head Creek at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

, ?

March 1, 2017

I’m guessing you might be asking yourself, “What’s up with the title of this blog post?” It must be either a typo or mistake, right? No, it’s another case of acceptable uncertainty.

The following butterfly is either an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) or Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis). I can’t tell the difference between these two species unless I see the distinctive punctuation marks that appear on the underside of their wings. In this case, I saw the dorsal side only.

Some naturalists say you can differentiate Eastern Comma and Question Mark by their relative size, but hey, they’re so similar in size I think that field marker is useless unless the two species are side-by-side.

The preceding butterfly was spotted during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Michael Powell for identifying the butterfly featured in this post as an Eastern Comma. For details, see Michael’s comment on the post.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Uncommonly attractive Common Buckeye

February 27, 2017

A Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) was spotted during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA.

Although I would never wear clothes with the same color palette as the Common Buckeye, somehow it just works for them!

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Beautiful butterflies can be ugly!

February 9, 2017

Butterflies are beautiful, right? Usually. And they feed on beautiful flowers, right? Not always, as shown below.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, feeding on scat.

20 MAY 2016 | ABWR | Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (male)

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) was spotted along Great Blue Heron Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, feeding on mineral salts in scat (possibly raccoon).

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Monarch butterfly chrysalises

February 7, 2017

Let’s continue the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) theme by flashing back to a time several years ago when my best camera for photowalking was either an Apple iPhone or whatever camera gear I could borrow.

Patuxent Research Refuge

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis was spotted on 02 September 2012 at the Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland USA. The chrysalis was attached to a telephone callbox outside the Visitor Contact Station, North Tract. The chrysalis was located near a bed of milkweed plants. I observed Monarch butterfly caterpillars (larvae) feeding on the same milkweed on 26 August 2012.

The next image is a closer crop of the preceding photo, taken using a loaner Canon EOS Rebel XTi DSLR camera.

Hollin Meadows Elementary School

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis casing was spotted during a photowalk on 09 October 2010 at the Children’s Garden at Hollin Meadows Science and Math Focus School, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The chrysalis was attached to the outside of a classroom window near a planting of Scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).

I observed Monarch butterfly caterpillars (larvae) feeding on the Scarlet milkweed plants during late August through early September 2010. Sometime later, during the pupal stage of its life, one of the caterpillars created a chrysalis on a classroom window in order to transform from larva to adult. I discovered the empty casing after the adult Monarch butterfly had emerged from its chrysalis.

(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation.)

The photo was taken using an Apple iPhone 3GS and annotated using Adobe Photoshop.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another Monarch butterfly

February 5, 2017

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was spotted during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA.

A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

25 OCT 2016 | OBNWR | Monarch butterfly (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by the presence of scent scales on his hind wings. Notice the dark wing spots clearly visible in the dorsal view (shown above) and faintly visible in the ventral view (shown below). Technically, the wing spots are called “androconia.”

A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

25 OCT 2016 | OBNWR | Monarch butterfly (male)

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Monarch butterflies

February 3, 2017

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) were spotted at several wildlife-watching locations in Northern Virginia during Fall 2016. Although I saw more Monarchs in 2016 than in past years, their numbers have decreased significantly since I started photowalking in 2010.

Huntley Meadows Park

A solitary Monarch butterfly was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by the absence of scent scales on her hind wings.

The butterfly is feeding on an unknown species of thistle. Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding photo — the detailed structure of the flower head is astounding!

Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge

Another solitary female Monarch was spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. JMAWR is located along Dogue Creek, downstream from the southeastern boundary of Huntley Meadows Park.

A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

25 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Monarch butterfly

It seems as though Monarchs like purple-colored flowers. Can anyone identify the flowering plant shown in the preceding photo?

Editor’s Note: My next blog post will feature photos of a male Monarch butterfly spotted on 25 October 2016 at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Pearl Crescent butterflies (mating pair)

January 28, 2017

A mating pair of Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos) was spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

A mating pair of Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos) spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Pearl Crescent (mating pair)

Pearl Crescent is a common species of butterfly that is abundant at many of the wildlife-watching locations I visit. Although I’ve seen many Pearl Crescents, this is the first mating pair I’ve seen/photographed.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Variegated Fritillary butterflies (mating pair)

January 26, 2017

A mating pair of Variegated Fritillary butterflies (Euptoieta claudia) was spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

A mating pair of Variegated Fritillary butterflies (Euptoieta claudia) spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Variegated Fritillary (mating pair)

Notice the contrast in appearance between the dorsal view (shown above) and the ventral view (shown below).

A mating pair of Variegated Fritillary butterflies (Euptoieta claudia) spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Variegated Fritillary (mating pair)

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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