Butterflies, slow down!

I've heard that with our mild winter it's going to be a good year for insects -- or bad year, depending on what your opinion of these fascinating, omnipresent creatures is. If the number of butterflies that I've seen in my yard is any indication, they're right.



My garden has been crazy with butterflies, and it's only the first week of May! I want to take photos of all of them, but the trouble is they just won't sit still! Perhaps they are also noticing the extra competition so are frantically flitting about. It's been so frustrating, as the photos are just not happening.
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Don't get me wrong -- if I had my choice between a garden full of butterflies that won't pose, or a few slow ones that allow me to get photos I'll go for the garden full every time.

There are several different species that apparently use my weedy lawn violets as a larval food source, but they only rest on each leaf for about a second at most -- not enough time for me to focus and shoot.

I did manage to get a photo or two after many minutes and missed shots:


I'm so glad I did, as this isn't a species that I've noted before: Variegated Fritillary. I've probably seen it before, but never ID'd it. I love "finding" new species!


This is a terrible shot, but an example of what I have to settle for. It's good enough to help confirm the ID though, as it's often critical to see not only the topside of the wings, but the undersides too.

Some butterflies make this difficult, as they almost never sit with their wings open, or closed. Like this Sulphur:



This one was maddening too, as it hung on each catmint flower just long enough for me to get a shot, but it wanted to point its wings directly at me.


This next one was a lucky shot of the wings open, snapped as the bug was flapping. It is not a species that rests with its wings in this position. It actually doesn't appear to be a species that rests at all -- at least not this year.


From these photos -- especially the wings open one -- I can see that this isn't a Clouded Sulphur as I first thought. The orange color on the top of the wings tells me it's an Orange Sulphur (or possibly a hybrid between a Clouded and an Orange), and the faint orange spot flags it as male.

Luckily I did have one butterfly that cooperated recently... or almost did.


This fellow caught my eye one morning as it landed on the street, sunning itself I presume. After several attempts to get in position for a good shot I finally got a nice one:


This is a Mourning Cloak butterfly, and they're apparently fairly common -- although this is the first I've ever seen (as far as I can remember)! The adults live 10 months or more, hibernating through the cold winter, emerging as it warms up in spring.


I like the shaggy butterflies best for some reason.


So that's a look at just a few of the mad butterflies racing around my yard. There are many more that I'll never be able to photograph, like the tiny blue ones that taunt me so and are everywhere in my yard.

I think we need a cool snap to slow these guys down a bit... I need more photos!

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Teri  – (May 5, 2012 at 10:29 AM)  

Put a dab of grape jelly on something (even a thumb size 'bowl' made of foil) and they will hang out next to it. It works for TN butterflies.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (May 5, 2012 at 2:08 PM)  

I've never managed to capture a butterfly on camera and I'm super impressed that you have! Some lovely shots, especially the 5th and last three. Lovely!

Casa Mariposa  – (May 5, 2012 at 8:58 PM)  

I've seen a lot of butterflies already this year, too. It's been wonderful! I wish they were easier to get shots of!

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