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Archive for the ‘Butterflies’ Category

It’s springtime and love is in the air. So many creatures seem to be searching for mates and some of them have obviously found one, like this pair of Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos) that I spotted in flagrante delicto at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge in Northern Virginia this past Friday.

I am no expert in butterfly anatomy and have no idea how this works, but there is a real beauty in the position, which appropriately looks  to me like a double heart. What can I say, I am a romantic at heart.

Pearl Crescent

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was searching for dragonflies yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I noticed an unusually large bumblebee and started to give chase. When it landed and I moved in close, it became clear that it was not a bumblebee after all—it was a clearwing moth.

I have seen clearwing moths in the past of the the variety commonly known as Hummingbird Clearwing Moths (Hermaris thysbe), but they have generally been hovering like a hummingbird rather than perching like this one and their wings were outlined in red, not black. It took only a few minutes of internet research to discover that this is a Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis).

 

Snowberry Clearwing moth

Snowberry Clearwing moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This delicate little butterfly was facing away from me, but I love the way that you can see the beautiful markings on the inside of its wings. I believe it is an Eastern-tailed Blue butterfly (Cupido comyntas), a kind of hairstreak butterfly with an average wingspan of only about one inch (25mm).

I chased after a number of these butterflies earlier this week when I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. They don’t fly very fast, but their flight path is unpredictable and close to the ground and they usually don’t perch for long in one spot.

I suspect that if someone had been observing me from a distance, they would have been hard-pressed to figure out what I was trying to photograph and might have concluded that I was merely another crazy wildlife photographer. We are a peculiar breed, aren’t we?

Eastern-tailed Blue

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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If it hadn’t been moving, I am pretty sure that I would not have spotted this Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. The butterfly was perfectly camouflaged among all of the fallen leaves and even in this cropped image you have to look hard to see it.

Common Buckeye

I am also including a copy of the original image, in which the butterfly is even harder to find. The image reminds me of some of the complicated jigsaw puzzles that my Mom used to like to do when I was a child. I remember one puzzle that was a circular one depicting a plate of spaghetti. Needless to say, my Mom had a lot of patience and persistence.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The beautiful orange and brown colors of this Eastern Comma butterfly (Polygonia comma) that I recently spotted at Huntley Meadows Park make it a perfect symbol of this autumn season. This species seems to like to perch on trees, sometimes facing downward, as was the case this time.

Not long ago I did a posting that featured a Question Mark butterflya species that closely resembles this one, but the relatively clear white marking on the hind wing make me think this is an Eastern Comma butterfly. My recent record in correctly identifying butterflies has not been great, however, so I welcome a correction if my identification is incorrect.

It is not immediately apparent from this image, but Eastern Comma butterflies blend in really well with the bark of the trees. The sun was shining through the wings from behind, making the orange color of the inner wings much more prominent than usual, allowing us to see both the colors and the shape of this beautiful butterfly.

Eastern Comma

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Earlier this week I chased after this beautiful little butterfly at Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. I am pretty sure that it’s a Clouded Sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice), but have no idea of the identity of the flower on which it is feeding. Although at first glance it may look like I used flash for this image, a close examination of the shadows shows the direction of the bright sunlight. I was using spot metering for this light-colored subject, which meant that the background was significantly underexposed when getting a proper exposure of the primary subject.

Clouded Sulphur

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) are quite common, but many people ignore them, assuming they are “only” moths. I find real beauty in their simple elegance, like this one I spotted last weekend in the garden of my friend Cindy Dyer.

The butterfly was already white and black, so I decided to play around and remove color from the rest of the image too. I like the look of the black-and-white image, but decided to include the color version so that you can decide for yourself which one you prefer.

Cabbage White

Cabbage White

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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