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This Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) was so focused on the goldenrod flowers that it was either unaware of my presence or simply didn’t care on Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. I was therefore able to capture the beauty of the butterfly from a somewhat unusual angle that lets us see some of the wonderful markings on the body as well as on the wings.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Not a beetle

My eyes were drawn yesterday to the bright yellow of a patch of goldenrod as I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at nearby Fort Belvoir. From past experience I knew that goldenrod also attracts a wide variety of insects, so I moved in closer with my macro lens at the ready.

There were a lot of skipper butterflies, but what really caught my eye was a small, brightly patterned insect that was crawling around in the goldenrod. Based on its shape, I assumed that it was some kind of beetle, but I had not idea what kind it was. When I returned home and began to do a little research, I was a little shocked to learn that the insect in question was a moth, not a beetle. I am pretty sure that it is an Ailanthus Webworm moth (Atteva aurea).

The colors and patterns of this moth are so spectacular that I think it needs a name that is more descriptive and easier to remember. Any ideas?

Ailanthus Webworm moth

Ailanthus Webworm moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Great Egret Takeoff

The Great Egret (Ardea alba) was beautiful in the bright sunlight. Its wingspan was impressive and its flight was graceful as it took to the air.

Yes, the takeoff indeed was great.

Great Egret

Great Egret

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Many of the dragonflies that I see this late in the summer have wings that are torn and tattered, yet they seem to still fly perfectly well. The dragonflies clearly are survivors—survivors of encounters with predators and thorny vegetation or even of overly energetic mating sessions.

Last Friday I spotted this Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) as it perched on some bent stalks of grass. He is not a perfect specimen, but I can’t help but be drawn in by his beautiful speckled blue eyes.

Yes, he still deserves to be called “great.”

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Monarch in a tree

The last few years I haven’t seen many Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and I have read reports of their declining numbers. I was therefore pretty excited when I spotted one yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park. As I approached, the Monarch got spooked and flew up into a tree. Fortunately I was shooting with my long telephoto zoom lens and I managed to get this somewhat unusual shot of the beautiful butterfly.

Monarch butterfly

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Appalachian Brown

I spotted this beautiful little butterfly while wandering through the woods at Huntley Meadows Park this morning. I think it might be an Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia), although there are a surprisingly large number of brown butterflies with eyespots, which complicates identification.

The woods were pretty dark in the area in which I first spotted the butterfly. However, luck was with me and the butterfly landed on a log that was in the sunlight. I tried to get as low as I could to get this shot, which is why you see the green moss in the foreground.

Update: One of my Facebook readers pointed out that this is probably a Northern Pearly-eye (Enodia anthedon), not an Appalachian Brown. My butterfly identification definitely need some more work.

Appalachian Brown

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) are one of my favorite summer dragonflies. I spotted this one recently at Huntley Meadows Park, perched on the railing of an observation deck in the obelisk pose.

The dragonfly was pretty cooperative and I was able to try few different angles and shooting positions. Although I had my camera’s aperture set to f/10, you can see that the depth of field was relatively shallow and I tried to take advantage of that to isolate the subject and the specific rail on which it was perched.

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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