Archive for the ‘butterflies and moths’ Category

, ?

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.

Peopoll’s Choice Awards – Top 10 Photos of 2016

January 22, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, the people have spoken. It’s time to announce the winners of the Peopoll’s Choice Awards for my Top 10 Photos of 2016. The Top 10 photos were selected using reader feedback. Sincere thanks for your participation!

Award-winning photos are presented in order of most-to-least votes. I cast the tie-breaking votes for the last four winners (No. 7-10), chosen from five photos that received the same number of your votes. In other words, I selected one of five photos to omit.

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

No. 7

No. 8

No. 9

No. 10

Editor’s Note: The following location codes are used in some photo captions, shown above.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Camouflage

January 16, 2017

Some moths are so well camouflaged they’re easy to overlook — a good survival strategy that protects them from predators.

Tulip-tree Beauty moth

A Tulip-tree Beauty moth (Epimecis hortaria) was spotted near Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Bill Yule, a member of the BugGuide Facebook group, for identifying this specimen. Alonso Abugattas — Natural Resources Manager, Arlington County Parks, Virginia — added the following comment to the thread: “It’s the largest of our local geometrid (inchworm) moths.”

Underwing moth

An unknown species of Underwing moth (Catocala sp.) was spotted along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park.

The forest was so dark where this moth was perching that I had to set my external flash unit for high power in order to expose the subject properly, resulting in the underexposed background.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Teá Kesting-Handly, a member of the BugGuide Facebook group, for identifying this specimen. Ms. Kesting-Handly cautioned that the species is challenging to identify without seeing the hindwings. Quoting a follow-up comment on Facebook, “I looked over my collection of Catocala again, and compared to your photos, and I can say with a high degree of certainty it is Catocala ilia.” Thanks for the extra effort on my behalf, Teá!

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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