Tag Archives: nature photography

Butterfly Journal For 10/08/2021 – 10/14/2021

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Butterfly sightings have dwindled significantly. Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded 7 observations (6 species), bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 579 (30 species).

Butterfly Sightings 10/08/2021 –  10/14/2021

10/10/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
10/13/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
10/13/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
10/14/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
10/14/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
10/14/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1

We had one satisfying rain a week ago, just following my last report’s lament on how dry it had been. (It came Friday, October 8 and well into Saturday.) Then a series of days marked by heavy, portending gray clouds gave way to clear blue skies without producing rain.

There have been few photo opportunities this week. Precipitation brought a sigh of relief and optimism, but did not bring out butterflies here.  Plenty of flowers for them to feed on are still available should they arrive.

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

My dahlias are double or semi-double which are not as easy for insects to feed upon as single dahlias would be, but zinnias and lantana are plentiful. (I ordered several singles but they didn’t survive.)

Lantana and Zinnias

I spotted one little hairstreak this week resting atop my passalong chrysanthemums, which are full of buds.

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

Last year I saw an occasional butterfly into mid-November so I am hopeful the 2021 list will expand by a few more entries.

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

Butterfly Journal For 10/01/2021 – 10/07/2021

October 2, 2021 – Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Since my last report I recorded 24 observations, down from 43 last report. The 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden is 572.  A chance encounter with a Common Checkered-Skipper added another species to those seen my first time (7 lifers this year)—a total of 30 species noted in the garden for 2021.

October 3, 2021 – Common Checkered-Skipper (Burnsius communis)

October 3, 2021 – Common Checkered-Skipper (Burnsius communis)

Conditions are dry and overcast with teasing gray, cloudy skies alternating with rich blue skies. Forecasts for a rainy week have led to disappointment. Today there is a 51% chance at 10 a.m. for about 0.3 inches, similar to predictions of past days. While running an errand across town Monday afternoon I was caught in a short-lived downpour, so I can attest it did rain locally, just not in this garden.

Butterfly Sightings 10/01/2021 –  10/07/2021
10/02/2021 Clouded Skipper – Lerema accius 1
10/02/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 2
10/02/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
10/02/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 4
10/03/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3
10/03/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
10/03/2021 Common Checkered-Skipper – Burnsius communis 1
10/03/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
10/04/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
10/05/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
10/05/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
10/05/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 5
10/06/2021 Clouded Skipper – Lerema accius 1
10/07/2021 Clouded Skipper – Lerema accius 1

It was difficult to get photos this week. Lately Carpenter bees have used aggressive positioning to dominate the main nectar sources, Common lantana and zinnias.  The few monarchs I saw were constantly interrupted by the bees and would fly way up into the air, floating around, sometimes resting high in the redbud tree or a neighbor’s Japanese maple, before giving it another try.  Eventually the monarchs just moved on out of the garden. At my back fence looking toward a neighbor’s backyard, I managed to catch this monarch nectaring on remnants of Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower).

October 3, 2021 – Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

There are usually a few but this autumn has brought a surprising flush of blooms on the gardenias. Before this year I had never noticed gardenias attracting skippers.

October 3, 2021 – Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

I had help identifying this skipper from Harry LeGrand in the Carolina Leps group: “Clouded. VERY long proboscis, strong white costal band. They often nectar on morning-glory and many other tubular flowers; most skippers can’t reach the nectar on such flowers.”  Watch at full screen view if possible and you can see that proboscis in action in this video.

Missing: Last year I saw Red-spotted Purple, Painted Lady, Wild Indigo Duskywing and American Snout, but not yet this year.  Monarchs are scarce and very few Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have stopped by the garden this year.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

 

Butterfly Journal For 9/25/2021 – 9/30/2021

September 27, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Since my last report I recorded 43 observations of 10 species, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total in my garden to 548 (29 total species).  There has been no more rain.

Butterfly Sightings 9/25/2021 –  9/30/2021
09/25/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/25/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/25/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
09/26/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
09/26/2021 Sleepy Orange – Abaeis nicippe 1
09/26/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
09/26/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/27/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/27/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
09/27/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 6
09/27/2021 Pearl Crescent – Phyciodes tharos 1
09/27/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
09/27/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
09/28/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
09/28/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 4
09/28/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
09/28/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
09/28/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/28/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/29/2021 Eastern Tailed-Blue – Cupido comyntas 1
09/29/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 5
09/29/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/30/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 6
09/30/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/30/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
09/30/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1

I had no first-of-life or first-of-year sightings, but did enjoy seeing a few species that had not been around for a while. Yesterday saw the return of the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia), the first since August 11. They were frequently seen around the garden in June and July. This one was hanging out among dahlias. It flew off as soon as I approached so I managed only a fuzzy, not-worth-sharing photo.

Last reporting period I had noted a Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) and this week saw one more. It was one of the first species seen in the garden this year, back in April 10, 2021. While I have been recording butterfly sightings I have only scratched the surface in learning about the individual species and their habits.

September 27, 2021 Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) was back this week also after being absent since August 10, 2021. As colorful and welcome as it was, I admit to hoping it was going to be a Painted Lady, which has been completely absent from my garden since last year, August 2, 2020. From following reports of other butterfly watchers I understand numbers for Painted Lady species is down across the state. I captured the American Lady busily nectaring on Common Lantana.

September 27, 2021 American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

Fiery Skipper still contributes to padding my number of total butterfly observations–they are easily observed in multiples. Anecdotally their numbers seem way down this year.

September 26, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

I continue to see a few Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola) here and there. This is another species other people note as absent from their reports.

September 27, 2021 Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

On Wednesday an Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas) followed me inside onto the porch. It was in no mood for pictures. Though I left the door open it spent the next half-hour frantically trying to escape the screen. Eventually it found its way to freedom. I had last recorded seeing this species three times in June of this year.

September 29, 2021 Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

The other species seen this reporting phase are the most photogenic (or at least the most cooperative in allowing me to photograph them). I saw 4 Red-banded Hairstreak, 4 Cloudless Sulphur, 3 Monarch and 1 Sleepy Orange. I will close by sharing with you the graceful beauty of these creatures, but first here are several other visitors to the garden.

Suddenly there are lots of birds (which are too quick for my camera) and many grasshoppers.

September 27, 2021 Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis)

Perhaps this Carolina anole, sunning on a gazing ball underneath the zinnias, is hoping for supper.

September 27, 2021 Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Hummingbird Clearwings have been frequently seen this summer. The other day more than once this moth bumped the monarch out of its way. I’ve noticed carpenter bees feeding on lantana to be similarly aggressive lately.

September 28, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

The male monarch was pristinely fresh.

September 27, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

September 27, 2021 butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Lantana is universally popular as a nectaring source. The one Sleepy Orange I saw during this reporting period blended in with the multi-colored flower clusters pretty well.

September 26, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

September 26, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

For a few days I enjoyed seeing a Cloudless Sulphur in the yard, like this one intently feeding on zinnias.

September 25, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

None of my single-form dahlias survived the rabbits and drought this summer, but there have been a few butterflies lured to the doubles. Dahlia ‘Break Out’ opened recently. Whether this Red-banded Hairstreak was able to nectar here I’m not sure.

September 25, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

Butterfly Journal For 9/17/2021 – 9/24/2021

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

Since my last report I recorded 11 observations of 6 species, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total in my garden to 505 (and approximately 29 total species).  The garden at last received a nice rainfall Tuesday and Wednesday. Flowers have perked up and I hope more butterflies will venture this way.

Butterfly Sightings 9/17/2021 –  9/24/2021

09/17/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/17/2021 White M Hairstreak – Parrhasius m-album 1
09/17/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
09/18/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
09/18/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/18/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/20/2021 Sleepy Orange – Abaeis nicippe 1
09/20/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
09/23/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/24/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/24/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1

Last report listed 21 observations so this week’s tally is down. Had I counted “little orange skippers” I could have matched that total, but they have been skittish and I could not get photos.  Most looked like Fiery Skippers but I do not trust my instincts enough to name them without pictures to back up the identification.  I did find a few Ocola Skippers; they are easier to know.

September 17, 2021 Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

There were a few more Hairstreak sightings, one White M  and several Red-banded. There is just a hint of the blue dorsal view but I couldn’t get a photo of one with open wings.

September 17, 2021 M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) on Dahlia ‘Petra’s Wedding’

September 23, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) On Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

September 17, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

During this period I saw my first Cloudless Sulphur of the year (September 18) with another sighting today (September 24).

September 18, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

September 18, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

This butterfly seems willing to nectar on a variety of plants—I saw the one today alight on gardenia, several salvias, cleome, perennial sweet pea and dahlias. The salvias may have held the most allure. Both days I managed the best photographs on the salvias.

September 24, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Thought this next image is cropped and not well-focused, today I managed to catch an open-wing view of the Cloudless Sulphur.

September 24, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

I chased a Sleepy Orange around for quite a while the other day, eventually getting a close-up look.

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

It settled briefly at lots of plants including this weedy one I have been trying to eliminate from the garden. I cannot remember its name at the moment but it spreads by runners and has travelled far and wide. At least it is providing some nutrients to the Sleepy Orange.

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

It was interesting to see the open-wing view of this butterfly.

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe). Open-wing, dorsal view.

Monarchs are endearing and always a welcome sight. This one’s wing has a slight fold or wrinkle that I worried about. Common lantana is a favorite nectar source.

September 20, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

September 20, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

Wordless Wednesday – Autumn and Camellia Fruits

Smiling Fruit on Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Wordless? Well, just a few whispers this rainy (yes actual rain is falling) Wednesday.

Welcoming September Equinox with a wistful sigh today Sep 22 3:21 pm EDT.

The garden’s nearly 20 year old Camellia sasanquas ‘Yuletide’ have produced fruits this year. I have a record of this pollinator achievement one other time in a photo taken also on this day in the year 2012.

Butterfly Journal For 9/12/2021 – 9/16/2021

September 14, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) on Tansy

Since my last report I recorded 21 observations of 9 species, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total in my garden to 494. These past 5 days have been decidedly more interesting than the previous two weeks were—I had one first-of-year sighting (Clouded Skipper) and one first-of-life butterfly (White M Hairstreak).

Butterfly Sightings 9/12/2021 –  9/16/2021

9/12/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
9/13/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
9/13/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
9/13/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
9/13/2021 Clouded Skipper – Lerema accius 1
9/14/2021 Pearl Crescent – Phyciodes tharos 1
9/14/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
9/14/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3
9/14/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
9/14/2021 Clouded Skipper – Lerema accius 2
9/14/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 2
9/15/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 2
9/16/2021 White M Hairstreak – Parrhasius m-album 1
9/16/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
9/16/2021 Gray Hairstreak – Strymon melinus 1

Seen at separate days/times, here are the three hairstreaks I saw this week: White M, Gray and Red-banded. These are small butterflies about the size of my thumbnail. Their presence was not limited to one plant, but at different times each had settled on Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) at some point, making for a nice collection of images.

Three hairstreaks seen this week. Top: 9/16/2021 White M Hairstreak – Parrhasius m-album; Bottom left: 9/16/2021 Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus); Bottom right: September 15, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

I photographed five Red-banded Hairstreaks during this reporting period across several days, so some may have been the same individuals.

September 15, 2021  Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

I have been seeing butterfly reports and images from others about sightings of White M Hairstreak nearby, but was very surprised to find one in my garden. Its abundance in North Carolina is listed as “rare to uncommon, but widespread,”  having been recorded across 2/3 of the state, just not in great numbers. This one will be added to my first-of-life list (when I get around to retroactively creating it). Can you spot the “M”?

September 16, 2021 -White M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

There were a lot of large active carpenter bees working the salvia. Occasionally the bees and the hairstreak shared the same stem for a moment until, like in the game musical chairs they scrambled for a new seat. Unlike in musical chairs there was room for all.

September 16, 2021 -Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) with White M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

I first saw a Gray Hairstreak this year on July 3, but had seen none lately until yesterday. This one looked very fresh and was cooperative as I took pictures as it performed its acrobatics.

September 16, 2021 -Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Soon after Kris last week mentioned seeing mostly Clouded Skippers in her Los Angeles garden and I replied I hadn’t seen any this year, one serendipitously popped up. When I initially saw it I had assumed I was photographing an Ocola Skipper, but iNaturalist suggested Clouded.  The next day I saw a couple more.

September 13, 2021 – Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

September 14, 2021 – Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

I have not seen more Clouded Skippers since Tuesday but yesterday did see an Ocola. It zeroed in on a last bit of goodness from a worn stem of verbena bonariensis.

September 16, 2021
Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

A brief encounter with this Pearl Crescent was the first since April 10. The butterfly quickly disappeared before I could get a good picture, so the evidence is a heavily cropped image.

September 14, 2021 Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Other species seen this week:

September 13, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

September 14, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

September 14, 2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

September 13, 2021 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

I love the way the cheerful way the zinnia’s color reflects here onto the silver spot in this last image. Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

Butterfly Journal For 8/28/2021 – 9/11/2021

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Since my last report I recorded 28 observations of 7 species, bringing the annual butterfly total in my garden to 473. During this decidedly unexciting 15-day period, sightings overall were down with Fiery Skippers accounting for 12 of the 28, nearly 43%.

It has temporarily cooled off a bit but remains extremely dry.  A friend who lives 30 miles away experienced 2.5 inches of rain in one-half hour Thursday, causing a short-lived flash flood in her backyard, while we had barely enough rain to dampen the ground. Clouds have passed right by us all summer.

Butterfly Sightings 8/28/2021 –  9/11/2021

8/28/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/28/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
8/28/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
8/29/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/30/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
9/2/2021 Dun Skipper – Euphyes vestris 1
9/2/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 2
9/2/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
9/2/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
9/2/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
9/6/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 4
9/8/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
9/10/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
9/10/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
9/10/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 5
9/10/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
9/11/2021 Black Swallowtail – Papilio polyxenes 1

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Recently solo Monarchs have entered the garden, swept through the borders quickly and exited quickly without regard for the already dejected, resident paparazzi. Similarly, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails which are usually plentiful by also are sailing past rather than enjoying the delights of lantana and zinnias the garden table is offering. This monarch took an interest in verbena bonariensis.

September 8 , 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

The garden’s first Dun Skipper sighting since 2015 made it into this report. As is true with many of the skippers, I needed help with this ID. iNaturalist suggested a different species, but the yellow-gold on top of the head and few spots on the forewings helped my resources agree it is a Dun female.

Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)

After feeling rather disappointed about the current state of butterflies a mid-afternoon visit today from a spectacular Black Swallowtail has lifted my spirits. The butterfly was beautiful and appeared quite fresh.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Also hanging out in the garden in early September are huge spiders, anoles, bumblebees, birds, hummingbird clearwings and ever hopeful dragonflies.

Argiope aurantia (Black and Yellow Garden Spider)

Bumblebee (Bombus)

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)

Back to butterflies, this Ocola was particularly cooperative in posing.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

August 28, 2021  Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

 

Eastern Amberwing, Female Edition

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), female

Yesterday, August 28, 2021 I came across another Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), a female this time. She was very interested in the budding zinnia, which in turn called my attention to the flower’s intricate outline and pattern at this stage.

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), female

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), female

For comparison here the male Eastern Amberwing seen on August 22, 2021.

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), male

Butterfly Journal For 8/20/2021- 8/27/2021

August 21, 2021  Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

This week I recorded 33 observations of 9 species, bringing the annual butterfly total in my garden to 445. It has been very dry and hot and I have not spent much time outdoors lately so this is actually a surprising count. The numbers are helped by having a daily supply of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, including a dark female morph on several days.

August 23, 2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Butterfly Sightings 8/20/2021- 8/27/2021

8/21/2021 Black Swallowtail – Papilio polyxenes 1
8/21/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/21/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) 1
8/21/2021 Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius) 1
8/21/2021 Sachem – Atalopedes campestris 1
8/22/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 5
8/23/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 5
8/23/2021 Sachem – Atalopedes campestris 1
8/23/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
8/24/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 3
8/25/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 3
8/25/2021 Sleepy Orange – Abaeis nicippe 1
8/27/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/27/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
8/27/2021 Sachem – Atalopedes campestris 1
8/27/2021 Sleepy Orange – Abaeis nicippe 1
8/27/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
8/27/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
8/27/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) 1

A Monarch stopped by the garden this afternoon but wouldn’t let me near.

August 27, 2021  Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

While I was trying to get a close-up photo of the monarch I encountered some other butterflies I would not have noticed otherwise.

August 27, 2021  Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

August 27, 2021  Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

August 27, 2021  Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

I saw a first-of-year Sleepy Orange on August 25 with another sighting today.  I have better photos of this species from previous years. All images this week were rather poor, but I was excited to add another species to the 2021 count. [Note: Wikipedia lists the binomial as Eurema nicippe.]

August 25, 2021  Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe) -First of year

Today the Sleepy Orange was nectaring on Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage).  Glad to see it getting some respect.

August 27, 2021  Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

August 27, 2021   Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

Eastern Amberwing

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera)

The garden has been full of dragonflies and damselflies this summer. While watching for butterflies on Sunday I spotted this attractive Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera). I first saw one here in 2018 and again in 2019, skipping last year. So welcome back little pretty!

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera)

Here is what I found out about this dragonfly species.

It is very small, reaching a total length of no more than 25 mm. The males have orange or amber wings. Both sexes have a red pterostigma. The eastern amberwing dragonfly is one of the only types of dragonfly that actively mimics a wasp. The yellow and brown stripes on its abdomen encourage predators to stay away. When perched, they will wiggle their abdomen and wings in a wasp-like fashion to deter other animals from eating it. Males have an elaborate courtship ritual. When a female approaches his territory, the male will lead her to his selected egg-laying site and hover above it with wings whirring and abdomen raised.

The common name refers to its eastern range, although this dragonfly does extend westward well into the central part of the United States. The scientific name, tenera, means delicate and alludes to its small size.

(Eastern amberwing, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eastern_amberwing&oldid=1002301961 (last visited Aug. 23, 2021).)

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera)

Butterfly Journal For 8/13/2021- 8/19/2021

August 19, 2021 Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)

This week I recorded 27 observations of 8 species, bringing the annual total to 412. At long last we had some rain so I hope to see more butterflies once the plants respond to much-needed water.

I had planned a more diverse garden this year to support butterflies at all stages but sadly I have seeds saved from last year and new packets of seeds still unplanted. (Rabbits rank high among my excuses.)

Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush) and Lantana camara (Common lantana), both non-natives, continue to be the garden’s main nectar source. Native Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) has finally opened but is drawing little action. Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) began going to seed early due to lack of rain, attracting lots of American Goldfinches, but since the rain this week a few more flowers have opened.  Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan) began flowering around July 4 and usually has a few insects on it.

August 14, 2021
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)

Another native, Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), is quickly going to seed. Several weeks ago once zinnias and cosmos finally flowered a variety of butterflies appeared on them, but this week those plants attracted mainly a few (welcome) bees. Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) bloomed late May and early June and is setting seed, the okra-like pods preparing to burst. While there is no other milkweed to attract monarchs on their southward flight this fall they will usually nectar at the Lantana and zinnias and I hope this will be the case again. There were monarchs last week, but none this week.

Butterfly Sightings 8/13/2021- 8/19/2021

8/14/2021 Zabulon Skipper – Lon zabulon 1
8/14/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
8/14/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/15/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 3
8/15/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
8/15/2021 Pipevine Swallowtail – Battus philenor 1
8/16/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/16/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
8/16/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
8/16/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
8/18/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 2
8/18/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
8/19/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/19/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
8/19/2021 Sachem – Atalopedes campestris 5
8/19/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
8/19/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1

What’s happening here? A male Zabulon Skipper on a zinnia spots a female and joins her below on iris leaves.

August 14, 2021 Zabulon Skipper (Lon zabulon), male

 

August 14, 2021 Zabulon Skipper (Lon zabulon)

The male flies off when a smaller butterfly lands on the iris. I thought it was the same species but turned out to be an Ocola Skipper. The skippers are so hard to distinguish.

August 14, 2021 Zabulon Skipper (Lon zabulon), right and Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola), left

A couple days later it was interesting to see this Ocola nectaring on another non-native passalong, Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea). I haven’t noticed it attracting many pollinators.

August 16, 2021 Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Yesterday was another slow butterfly day, but I did spot a fresh Horace’s Duskywing. For a while I was seeing them often but this is the only one in this week’s report.

August 19, 2021 Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

Everyday sightings of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) have become more frequent. This is the only large butterfly reliably visiting the garden now, not in great numbers but 1-3 on most days.

August 16, 2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The sun is out this morning and I hope to watch for butterflies later.

How does your garden grow?

Butterfly Journal For 8/7/2021- 8/12/2021

August 11, 2021 Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

This week I recorded 34 observations, bringing the annual total to 385. There were 11 species, including one first-of-year and two first-of-life butterflies for me on the same day.

Butterfly Sightings 8/7/2021- 8/12/2021

8/8/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
8/9/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
8/9/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 2
8/9/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
8/9/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
8/9/2021 Zabulon Skipper – Lon zabulon 1
8/9/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
8/9/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3
8/9/2021 Eufala Skipper -Lerodea eufala 1
8/9/2021 Little Glassywing -Pompeius verna 1
8/10/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 3
8/10/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3
8/10/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
8/10/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
8/10/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
8/10/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
8/11/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 2
8/11/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 2
8/11/2021 Eufala Skipper -Lerodea eufala 1
8/11/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
8/11/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
8/11/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
8/11/2021 Little Glassywing -Pompeius verna 1

This is the first Zabulon Skipper I have seen this year. My first recorded Zabulon in the garden was last year, August 2020.

8/9/2021 Zabulon Skipper (Lon zabulon).  Male.

 

Here is my first ever Eufala Skipper, seen 8/9/2021 and another sighting 8/11/2021.

August 9, 2021 Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)

August 11, 2021 Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)

August 11, 2021 Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)

 

The other new-to-me butterfly appearing on the same two days is Little Glassywing.

August 9, 2021 Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)

August 9, 2021 Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)

August 11, 2021 Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)

Recently I’ve begun noticing Eastern Tiger Swallowtails flying up high into a tall pine tree just outside our back fence. One day from an upstairs window I could see a male resting/sleeping way up in the pine.  Beneath the tree branches is a favorite nectar source in my garden, a butterfly bush just inside the fence.

August 9, 2021  Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Digressing from butterflies for a moment: There haven’t been many bees around recently since the Green-headed coneflower went largely to seed, but this summer I have enjoyed a few visits from these clearwing moths.

August 11, 2021 Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

August 11, 2021 Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)

 

I saw several dark female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails this week. One featured for this week’s Wordless Wednesday was appallingly tattered and worn, yet actively feeding.  This one is in much better condition.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Hope your garden is absorbing, satisfying and engaging this summer.

Butterfly Journal For 8/1/2021- 8/6/2021

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

In what has proved to be an underwhelming butterfly week I recorded 52 observations, bringing the annual total to 351.  The sightings this week were limited to 7 species (all previously recorded this year): Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch, Silver-spotted Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Ocola Skipper, Horace’s Duskywing, and Sachem.

Butterfly Sightings 8/1/2021- 8/6/2021

8/1/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/1/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
8/1/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
8/1/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 4
8/1/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
8/2/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 8
8/2/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 3
8/2/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/2/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
8/4/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
8/4/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
8/4/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
8/4/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
8/5/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
8/5/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
8/5/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
8/5/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 3
8/5/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 2
8/5/2021 Sachem – Atalopedes campestris 1
8/6/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 2
8/6/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 11
8/6/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 3
8/6/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1

We finally had a couple days of cooler weather. The temporary relief from the summer’s heat was welcome yet poignant. I’m never ready for summer to end but already I sense it. On one day in particular when I searched for butterflies the stillness in the garden was almost eerie.

Rain started falling yesterday evening and this morning there is a nice steady shower—precipitation has been passing us by for weeks, even when areas nearby received several inches at a time.

In the garden little is blooming except a handful of annuals (zinnia, cosmos), Common lantana, and Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush).  Verbena bonariensis has mostly gone to seed and Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) is headed to seed too, bringing in lots of American goldfinches. The few dahlias that managed to survive this year are doubles, not as attractive to pollinators as the single form.

Early in the week two monarchs passed in and out of the garden, too quickly for more than a just a glimpse. Most butterflies noted this week were little skippers. I had help identifying this skipper as Sachem.  So many look alike and in my garden most of these little ones turn out to be Fiery Skippers.

Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) (Female)

I have taken lots of pictures of Fiery Skippers but I was surprised to catch this one in flight with open wings.  I usually catch them nectaring with wings either closed or partially open.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

 

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Although Common lantana appears to offer pollinator appeal, Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan), which took a lot of years to become established, is attracting Fierys and other insects regularly.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

 

It is nice to see some butterfly activity around the new-this-year Salvia nemorosa ‘Blue Hill’ (Meadow Sage). I’m having a hard time staying on top of deadheading it though—seems very needy.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Ocola Skippers are often seen in the garden.  They have long forewings and I read they may feed while hanging upside down—like this one.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the only species of larger butterflies I could photograph this week. Seeing missing portions from the hindwing makes me wonder what all these creatures must endure, what narrow escapes they make.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Some of the individuals are quite tattered and many are also worn. A fun fact gleaned from a Leps social media group explains the difference between fresh and worn: fresh butterfly wings are loaded with scales (think layers of shingles on a roof) that wear off. The butterfly wings rubbing together over a few days results in scales wearing off and causing the colors to fade — in most species. I haven’t done this but supposedly if you were to run your finger across a wing, you would get some color smeared on your finger, as you have gotten some scales on you it.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

 

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Here is a very worn duskywing and a fresher one.

Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

I do hope to see more different species. Last year I was informally keeping track and saw 7 species in August that I have yet to record this year. It will be interesting to see if butterflying picks up next week.

Butterfly Journal For 7/23/2021- 7/30/2021

July 25, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

[Note9/30/2021. Taxon update for Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades . Correct name is now Hoary Edge – Thorybes lyciades]

I recorded an amazing 112 butterflies during this reporting period. The annual total is 298.

Butterfly Sightings 7/23/2021- 7/30/2021

07/23/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/23/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 2
07/23/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/23/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/24/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 23
07/24/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 7
07/24/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 2
07/24/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 2
07/24/2021 Gray Hairstreak – Strymon melinus 1
07/24/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/24/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/25/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 6
07/25/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 3
07/25/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/25/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/26/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 4
07/26/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/26/2021 Pipevine Swallowtail – Battus philenor 1
07/26/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 6
07/26/2021 Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades Hoary Edge – Thorybes lyciades 1
07/26/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 2
07/26/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/27/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 3
07/27/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/28/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/28/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 3
07/28/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/29/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/29/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/29/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 2
07/29/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 8
07/29/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/29/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
07/29/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
07/30/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
07/30/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/30/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/30/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 10
07/30/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 4
07/30/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1

Within this new period 53 were Fiery Skippers and 14 were Ocola Skippers. These small creatures abound around the Common Lantana, Verbena bonariensis, Butterfly Bush; they also vie with bees and other insects at the Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower).

July 24, 2021 Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

The small skippers are difficult for me to identify with any certainty, but I am making an attempt. In my last report I had decided to just omit these species because of my uncertainty and the time it takes first to make a reasonable guess and second to verify the guess. But after asking for advice on the listserv where I have been reporting my butterfly sightings this year, I was encouraged to do report all species.

Harry LeGrand in Raleigh who is in charge of the collection data and statistics that end up online at Butterflies of North Carolina: their Distribution and Abundance offered a rule of thumb. “If any orange or yellow on them, 90% likely are Fiery, and the rest as Sachems.  That should be the Chatham County ratio. The dark ones likely Ocola and Clouded, with a few others like Dun possible. ”  Of the grass skippers I uploaded to verify this period, all were identified as Fiery or Ocola.

I saw the praying mantis in this photograph only when reviewing the images. Was the male Fiery paying attention?

July 26, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

In other news I can report a discovery and a correction: On 07/26/2021 I learned what I had been chasing as a Silver-spotted Skipper was a new-to-me Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades).  After reflection I realized I had earlier on 07/13/2021 made the same mistake and had misidentified it in my last butterfly journal. It’s been corrected now.  I was told Hoary Edge is often difficult to get in a garden. They are seen in Piedmont region of North Carolina where I live but are more easily found in the Sandhills.

[9/30/2021 Note: Taxon update. Correct name is now Hoary Edge – Thorybes lyciades]

July 26, 2021  Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades Hoary Edge (Thorybes lyciades)

For comparison here is the Silver-spotted Skipper.  I see these often.

July 24, 2021 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Nearly every day I observe 1 or 2 Horace’s Duskywings. Yesterday there were a record 4.

July 28, 2021  Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

More American Lady and Common Buckeye butterflies are visiting the garden than ever before and are recently observed enjoying cosmos flowers. I have not grown cosmos in many years but the orange and yellow flowers provide a well-coordinated color palette for photographs.

July 28, 2021 American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

July 28, 2021 American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

July 28, 2021 Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Cosmos

There have been a few Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, some pristine, some sadly worn and plucked.

July 29, 2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

I was ecstatic to see another Pipevine Swallowtail (last seen 6/14/2021). It was an unexpected treat.

July 26, 2021 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

July 26, 2021 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

July 26, 2021 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

And more!  Yesterday and today Monarchs stopped by.  Some of you have reported seeing these already. One had popped by here in early April when it was still unusually chilly. Hope we all see many more this summer.

July 29, 2021 Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

This has been a rewarding summer of butterflies.

Butterfly Journal For 7/17/2021- 7/22/2021

July 18, 2021 – Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

I recorded 34 butterflies during this reporting period. The annual total is 186.

Butterfly Sightings 7/17/2021- 7/22/2021

07/18/2021 Zebra Swallowtail – Eurytides marcellus 1
07/18/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/18/2021 Skipper sp. 10
07/18/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/18/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/20/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/20/2021 Zebra Swallowtail – Eurytides marcellus 1
07/20/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/20/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
07/20/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
07/20/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/20/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
07/20/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/21/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
07/21/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/21/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3
07/21/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 2
07/21/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
07/21/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/22/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/22/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/22/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1

The most thrilling butterfly moment this week: seeing a Zebra Swallowtail two days apart.  (There had also been one in early June.)

July 18, 2021 – Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

July 18, 2021 – Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

July 18, 2021 – Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

July 20, 2021 – Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Plenty of Grass Skippers (Hesperiinae), especially Fiery and Ocola, go uncounted in my unofficial survey. These insects flit from flower to flower, bump into each, dart away suddenly and land near or far, making it hard to get accurate counts. As I’m not confident of knowing these skippers by sight, it is a time-consuming effort to photograph and verify those that show up around the garden. So for them I am mostly selecting one or two to represent the group.

July 18, 2021 – Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

July 21, 2021 – Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) 1

This year Silver-spotted Skipper and Horace’s Duskywing are regularly seen, not in huge numbers but one or two nearly every day. Common Buckeye and American Lady also are more frequent this year.

July 21, 2021 – Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

July 21, 2021 – American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

July 21, 2021 – American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

Tuesday I photographed my first Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) of the year. Previously I had seen only one in July 2014 and a second in August 2015.

July 20, 2021 – Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are always a welcome sight.

July 20, 2021 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) is attractive to butterflies, bees and many other insects.

July 18, 2021 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

July 20, 2021 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Exploring for butterflies this summer in my garden has been a fun project.

Butterfly Journal For 7/13/2021- 7/16/2021

07/16/2021 Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

[Note: updated 7/28/2021 to correct ID of Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus to Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades.] 

[Note: Updated 9/30/2021 – Taxon change.  Old nomenclature changed from Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades to Hoary Edge – Thorybes lyciades]

Sometimes I spot a butterfly from a window, other times I actively choose a time to search along the borders. The most fun is when I’m working in the garden and one unexpectedly floats by, sending me chasing it for a brief time to capture the moment. Such a serendipitous encounter occurred yesterday. From the corner of my eye I caught painterly colors drifting by. They belonged to a Black Swallowtail. It entered the garden at the same time as an Eastern TIger Swallowtail. Both headed for the lantana which was already serving a good number of customers.

07/16/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger moved on quickly, startled I think by a bee or skipper trying to share the flowers. Within two minutes the Black Swallowtail had also departed, leaving me conscious of the fleetingness of the moment.

07/16/2021 Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Butterfly Sightings 7/13/2021- 7/16/2021

07/13/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1 Common lantana
07/13/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2 Common lantana; Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush)
07/13/2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) 2 Common lantana
07/13/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1 Common lantana
[next ID updated 7/28/2021 and 9/30/2021:]
07/13/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades Hoary Edge – Thorybes lyciades 1 Common lantana
07/13/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 3
07/13/2021 Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) 1
07/14/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 3 (1 is dark morph)
07/14/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
07/14/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 4
07/14/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2
07/14/2021 Skipper sp. 10 on lantana and butterfly bush
07/14/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/14/2021 Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) 1
07/14/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
07/15/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1 Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)
07/15/2021 Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) 1
07/15/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/15/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
07/16/2021 Cabbage White – Pieris rapae 1
07/16/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 4
07/16/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1
07/16/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 2
07/16/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 2 (1 is dark morph)
07/16/2021 Black Swallowtail – Papilio polyxenes 1
07/16/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 2

Here are a few glimpses of the butterflies seen from 7/13/2021- 7/16/2021. In addition to the one mentioned above, there have been a few Eastern Tiger Swallowtails with a couple of sighting of a dark morph, one on July 14 and yesterday, July 16. I have no way to know if it’s the same individual, but the more recent one is decidedly aged.

07/13/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

07/14/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

07/16/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) -Dark morph

07/16/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) -Dark morph

07/13/2021 Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades (Originally I had misidentified it as Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus.)  [Note 2: Updated 9/30/2021 – Taxon change.  Old nomenclature changed from Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades to Hoary Edge – Thorybes lyciades]

07/13/2021 American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

07/13/2021 Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)

07/14/2021 Pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

07/14/2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

07/14/2021 Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

There are other insects around of course. Now that Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) is open in several parts of the garden, the bees gather eagerly.

07/14/2021 Bees on Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Dragonflies have been prolific this year and this week I noticed a damselfly as well.

07/13/2021 Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

07/15/2021 Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)

07/14/2021 Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)

Hope your gardens are filled with wondrous sights that fill you with awe.

Spring Opening 2021

Vernal Equinox: March 20, 2021 5:37 am.

Spring officially arrived this morning in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ (Tete-a-Tete Daffodil)

After a week of severe weather warnings here on Thursday we saw only light rain showers on a day that sadly brought damaging tornados nearby and across the region. 

I managed only a couple hours of cleanup this week but it was satisfying to measure a bit of progress. A delivery of mulch scheduled for mid-week is a huge incentive to get busy weeding today.

Narcissus ‘King Alfred’

In fall of 2018 I layered tulip and muscari bulbs in a big blue pot. Last year a few tulips surprised me with blooms but muscari foliage was the bigger surprise. It never died back last summer, nor over the winter. So there is a tangle of leaves with little flowers now beginning to open.

Muscari ‘Armeniacum’

Muscari ‘Armeniacum’

After the winter a crinum lily is lifted way above ground.  I read it should be planted with soil up to the neck of the bulb, which it was, but like my daughter who couldn’t tolerate turtlenecks as a child, the crinum didn’t like being restricted either apparently.  Is the solution to dump more soil around it? It is already growing new leaves. I also read these bulbs could grow to 20 pounds so getting the planting right early on is important.

Crinum × powellii (Crinum lily)

I have tentatively identified a mystery plant in another pot as Matthiola incana (Stock). I think I pulled it up last fall by mistake and temporarily potted it until I could get back to it.

Matthiola incana (Stock -Giant Imperial Blend)

There is a very small clump of anemones starting to flower. Even one of these richly colored flowers is impactful when added to little bouquets of summer snowflakes and daffodils which I have been happily sharing with neighbors.

Anemone De Caen ‘Mr Fokker’

Some of the Liatris spicata ‘Blazing Star’ planted last year but enjoyed only by the rabbits have begun to emerge. The Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ is waking up. Spiraea seems very late this year but a few flowers have begun to show.

Liatris spicata ‘Blazing Star’

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

The hellebores continue to open and now the garden is looking more colorful when viewed more than six inches away.

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Helleborus x hybridus

Before I finish I must mention I am haunted by the recent tragedy in Atlanta. Please keep in your thoughts the Asian women who were targeted and murdered this week. Amidst such suffering in the world we must find a way to bring compassion into our hearts.

Helleborus x hybridus

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a productive and exciting spring!

Approaching Mid-March 2021

More hellebores are in flower. These, planted along the north side of the house in 2016, came from Pine Knot Farms (PKF) in southern Virginia. They have not bulked up much in all these years but I am happy to see them again.

Helleborus ’Black Diamond’ (Winter Jewels® Black Diamond)

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’ (seedlings)

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Apricot Blush’ (seedlings)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Also in the northern side garden this camellia is looking fine today. Just a few days ago its buds barely revealed color so I was surprised it opened so suddenly.  Last year it bloomed 10 days earlier.

Camellia ‘Coral Delight’

Camellia ‘Coral Delight’

Camellia ‘Coral Delight’

Camellia ‘Coral Delight’

The weather has been delightful all week, spirit-lifting really. On several days I managed to spend a few hours weeding and performing general clean-up. It is taking longer than expected but far from being a chore this year I am finding the tasks to be immensely satisfying.

Unknown Narcissus (Daffodil)

I showed these cerinthe flowers recently but am compelled by their rich colors to share them again.  I planted seeds last May in two locations. There is no sign of them in the back garden location, but this spot beside the house and next to the driveway is where they found happiness.

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

A Snapshot In Time

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

While chasing a decidedly camera-shy Common Buckeye butterfly yesterday afternoon, I came upon a fleeting segment of natural wonder.

Beneath a patch of zinnias an asclepias seedpod was having a moment. Walls of the okra-shaped pod had separated, revealing rows of seeds attached to white, silky threads.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Patterns in nature are fascinating and here the seeds are aligned, held back by gentle tufts of silkiness.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

I went inside to grab some clippers imagining this would make a great focal point for a floral design.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

In my brief two-minute absence nature carried on with its script, sending the necessary amount of wind across the flower bed, releasing the seeds into the world. Wind dispersal sends seeds away from the parent plant, in this case carried atop silky parachutes. Stunned it had happened so immediately I failed to even photograph the mostly bare stems left behind.

Eventually I managed a distant shot of the butterfly, a satisfying consolation and another fine example of nature’s fondness for pattern.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ (Hardy Chrysanthemum)