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Archive for the ‘Butterflies’ Category

When presented with a downward-facing flower, this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) was forced to choose an unusual angle of attack. Seeming defying gravity, this acrobatic butterfly hung upside down as it probed upwards earlier this week at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia.

If this were an Olympic competition, I would give him a 10 for both his technical skills and overall artistic impression.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As we move deeper into spring, more and more butterflies are starting to appear, like this beautiful Zebra Swallowtail (Protographium marcellus) that I spotted yesterday at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge. Zebra Swallowtails are most often associated with pawpaw trees, which is helpful to know, though I must confess I don’t know how to identify a pawpaw tree. What I do know is that these butterflies are constantly on the move and fly in such an erratic way that I have trouble getting a decent photograph of one.

Yesterday I managed to get a shot of a Zebra Swallowtail when it paused momentarily at a small tree, perhaps a possible pawpaw. What I like about the shot is that it shows well the colors of the butterfly as well as its long “tails.” I could not decide how much to crop the image, which was taken from a pretty good distance away, so I am including tow versions of the image. Personally I am drawn most to the second one, but recognize that many folks may prefer the first versions, which draws you more quickly to the butterfly’s beautiful details.

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Do you associate certain colors with certain seasons? For me, yellow is definitely a springtime color. After months of winter weather dominated by shades of gray and a palette of faded colors, spring explodes with bright colors, with yellow daffodils popping up all over the place. Usually I have to wait a bit longer for yellow to pop up in the birds and insects that I enjoy photographing.

As I was exploring with my camera this week, I ran across bright yellow subjects in two very different locations. One, a Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) was quite appropriately perched high in a pine tree. The second was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) that appeared to be probing the sand on the bank of a forest creek. I suspect that the butterfly needed the minerals and salts, although I confess to initially thinking that butterflies needed only nectar from flowers for sustenance (and there were definitely no flower in the area of that creek).

Pine Warbler

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Insects are becoming more active now as the weather warms up a bit, like this tiny Spring Azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon) that I spotted yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

There is something about chasing after a butterfly that makes me feel like a child again. I am sure that I would have looked ridiculous to an outside observer, who would have wondered what it the world I was doing.

Try it yourself. Chase a butterfly today or, if you can’t find one, let go of your inhibitions and do something equally childlike, like coloring with crayons. I think that most of us take ourselves too seriously too often.

Spring Azure

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Today I saw my first butterfly of the year, an Eastern Comma butterfly (Polygonia comma) that was flying about at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Members of this species overwinter as adults and may emerge form their hibernation for brief periods during winter warm spells.

It is not yet spring, but more and more signs point to the fact that it is just around the corner.

Eastern Comma

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A butterfly in December? I was shocked and thrilled to see this tattered Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) flying around yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I photographed this little butterfly with my telephoto zoom lens fully extended to 600mm. I contemplated cropping the image, but decided that I really like the look and feel of all of the fallen leaves and left it uncropped. I also like the way that the veining in the leaves seems to mirror the veining in the butterfly’s white wings.

Cabbage White

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The brightly colored summer butterflies have mostly disappeared, but Common Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia) still accompany me in great numbers as I walk the trails of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The subdued, earthy shades of this beautiful butterfly seem a perfect match for the autumn season.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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