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Posts Tagged ‘butterfly’

The only other time that I can remember a butterfly perching on me was when I was in an indoor enclosed butterfly garden. This time, though, it was out in the wild and I was a bit shocked when Walter told me that there was a butterfly on my head. Thanks to Walter Sanford, my friend and fellow dragonfly enthusiast, for capturing this encounter. Be sure to check out his blog for lots of wonderful images of dragonflies and other cool creatures.

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There’s a butterfly on your hat. A Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax).

16 AUG 2019 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Red-spotted Purple butterfly

This comical butterfly-man union was observed during a photowalk with Michael Powell at Painted Turtle PondOccoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

16 AUG 2019 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Red-spotted Purple butterfly

The weather was extremely hot and humid. (Notice the Cumulus congestus clouds building in the background.) Both Mike and I were soaked with sweat as soon as we started our photowalk earlier the same day at another site. The butterfly was feeding upon mineral salts on Mike’s “Duck Dynasty” hat.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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It has rained almost continuously for several days since my return from a brief overseas trip to Vienna, Austria. After a week spent mostly in the city, I was itching to get out into the wild again. The rain finally let up in middle of this morning, so I went out exploring with my camera at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

The wetland was really wet and it was cool and cloudy, so not much was stirring, except this little butterfly. I think I disturbed its sleep, for it was motionless with its wings spread wide until I was almost on top of it. Suddenly it took to the air and flew away. I am not sure what type of butterfly this is, but I was so happy to be in my “natural” environment again, that I am content to simply marvel in its delicate beauty.

UPDATE: In a Facebook insect identification group, my pretty little butterfly has been identified as a Crocus Geometer moth (sp. Xanthotype) or possibly a False Crocus Geometer moth.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It doesn’t really matter where I am—if I see a butterfly, I am almost certainly going to chase after it with the hope of capturing an image. That was certainly the case last week in Brussels when I spotted this tiny butterfly and managed to take this shot of it.

As some of you may recall, I am now using a superzoom Canon SX50 when I am travelling. I haven’t used it very often, so I am still learning its capabilities and limitations. I am pretty happy with the way the camera was able to capture some of the small details of this butterfly, including its extended proboscis, and the way that it rendered the out of focus flowers in the background. I am not ready to give up my DSLR, but I will certain consider taking the SX50 with me on those occasions when I just don’t feel like hauling my DSLR and multiple lenses.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Do you chase after butterflies? I do. There is a simple, uninhibited joy in running around a meadow in pursuit of a butterfly, waiting for it to perch, hoping to capture its beauty with my camera.

It’s still a little early for some of the larger, more colorful butterflies, but last week I was able to photograph this beautiful little Clouded Sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice).

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During the spring our eyes are naturally drawn to signs of new life, but somehow yesterday it was the signs of the past that caught my attention. I was fascinated by the structure of the skeletonized remains of an unknown flower, whose beauty has long ago faded into a lace-like form that reminded me of a butterfly.

Beauty and fragility—an appropriate metaphor for our lives.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Butterflies in November? I didn’t really expect to see any, so it was a pleasant surprise when I came upon this Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Monday at my local marsh. The butterfly is beat-up and bedraggled, but its beauty beams brightly—uncommon beauty at an unexpected time.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) moved about on a flower, the light hit it in different ways, beautifully illuminating its colorful wings.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I search in vain for larger, colorful butterflies, I continue to be amazed by the beauty of the smaller ones, like this Clouded Sulphur butterfly (Colias philodice) that I observed last week at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia.

Generally I like my closest shots the best when I am shooting with my macro lens, but in this case, I think I prefer the first shot below, that I took from a bit farther back. I like the way in which you can see the shadowy representations in the background of the stalks of the same kind of floweras the one one which the butterfly is feeding.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I am walking through the woods adjacent to the marsh, I often see small brown butterflies flitting about, but it’s rare that one lands in a place where I can photograph it. Last week, however, I got lucky and I was finally able to get some shots of one of these elusive butterflies.

Now that I have the images, I am faced with the difficult task of trying to identify the butterfly. There are a lot of brown butterflies with a numerous eye spots on the wings and to my untrained eyes, they all look pretty much the same. I think this one may be of the genus Lethe, but is it a Pearly Eye, an Appalachian Brown, an Eyed Brown, or something entirely different?

For now, I’ll fall back on an old habit and make up my own name for the butterfly and call it the Beautiful Woodland butterfly.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I chased this little orange butterfly through the woods for quite some time this past weekend in an effort to get my first butterfly image of the season, a Pearl Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes tharos). It may not be as big and brightly colored as some of the butterflies that I may encounter later in the season, but I find a real beauty in its minimal color palette and intricate design.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A familiar subject can look quite different when viewed from an unusual angle. It’s a lesson that every photographer is taught early on, but I need constant reminders to vary my approach.

I took this shot of a Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) yesterday while lying on the ground and pointing my telephoto lens up toward the sky. The perspective caused the shape of the wings to be different and permitted me to see the butterfly’s legs in a way that was completely new.

Not all such experiments are successful, of course, but I think that this one worked out pretty well.

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Click on the photo to see a higher resolution view.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It’s rare that I actually welcome an insect landing on me, which is usually a prelude to it biting me, but I was really happy when this Eastern Comma butterfly (Polygonia comma) decided it like the way that I tasted.

It initially landed right on my chest and began to lick my shirt and then moved over to the messenger bag in which I carry my camera gear. I carefully removed the bag and was able to get these shots while the Eastern Comma kept busy licking away my accumulated sweat (my apologies to those with delicate sensibilities, but these butterflies don’t land on pretty flowers and instead generally feed on the less photogenic sap, rotting fruit, and dung).

Normally this butterfly blends in well with its environment and is hard to see, but I guess that we would all agree that a blue Adidas bag is not its natural environment. It was also surprisingly easy to identify the butterfly. Last year I agonized in trying to decide if a butterfly I had photographed was a Question Mark or a Comma—the difference is in the shape of the white marking. Yes, those are actually the names of the butterflies. Who makes up these names? It’s the kind of job that I would enjoy.

I haven’t found any other insects named for punctuation marks, but won’t be surprised to find that there is an Asterisk caterpillar or an Ampersand beetle.

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Every now and then I take a photograph and I am not really sure how I achieved the effect in the shot, like this one of a Fiery Skipper butterfly (Hylephila phyleus) on a jagged leaf.

With the exception of a few minor adjustments of the RAW image and a tiny bit of cropping, this looks just like the image I started with. When I first examined the image, I was pretty sure that I had used flash, but the EXIF data indicate that flash was not used. I took the shot handheld at ISO 400, f/6.3, and 1/500 sec. The depth of field was pretty shallow, but I did get the eye pretty much in focus, and I like the way the sharpness falls off so quickly.

I especially like the blurry jagged back edge of the leaf and the sharper near edge. The triangular shape of the wings seems to mirror those jags. Even the butterfly’s pose seems to work well, with the one leg dangling over the edge. If you click on the image, you get a higher resolution view of the photo.

I think that this is a Fiery Skipper, though I confess that I am not very good at identifying these little butterflies. Let me know if you can help in further identifying the butterfly.

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I don’t know my flowers very well, but I think that this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is feeding on some kind of tiger lily (Lilium columbianum). Tiger on tiger—I like the way that sounds. Whatever the case, I love the gorgeous colors of the flowers, providing a gorgeous contrast to those of the butterfly.

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When I am chasing after little butterflies, it’s rare that I manage to get a shot of them with their wings open—I am lucky if I can get a side view.

This little brown butterfly, which I think is an Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia), perched in a location, however, which allowed me to shoot downward, catching its wings wide open. The muddy, brown water of the marsh normally would not be optimal for an image, but seem to work well here, almost matching the colors of the butterfly.

I also was able to get a shot from the side, the second image, showing the butterfly’s beautiful brown eyes. There was intermittent rain the day that I was shooting and you can see a few raindrops on the leaves of the plant on which the butterfly is perched.

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As I was ending a photo shoot of sunflowers last month with some fellow photographers, one of them noticed a pretty butterfly perched on a leg of one of our tripods.

The butterfly remained on the tripod leg for a long time and appeared to be licking the leg, prompting us to speculate that there might be residual salt from sweaty hands on the leg. Of course, we all gathered around the tripod and tried to snap photos of the butterfly. Eventually the butterfly flew off to some nearby vegetation, where I got this shot of a butterfly that I have not been able to identify.

As we go ready to walk back to our vehicle, the butterfly perched on the pant leg of one of the other photographers and then on my shirt before flying away again. After stowing our gear in the trunk, we figured that we had seen the last of the butterfly.

However, as we were slowly driving away, we noticed that the butterfly was inside the car, eventually moving to the windshield, right in front of the driver. We helped the butterfly out of the car with the aid of a CD cover, but had to admire its persistence—the butterfly really seemed to want to go home with us.

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As the beautiful afternoon light illuminated the wings of this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) from behind, I couldn’t help but think of a stained glass window. I love backlighting and these subjects seemed perfect to showcase the effect—I didn’t even have to worry about using fill flash to avoid shadows, because of the translucency of the wings.

I took this image yesterday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, yet another wonderful local spot for photographing flowers and insects.

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As I waited outside my neighbors’ townhouse so that we could travel to an indoor butterfly exhibit, I tried out my new macro lens in their garden and ended up with of my best butterfly shots of the day.

Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) are very common, but they are elusive when you try to photograph them. I managed to squeeze off only two shots before the butterfly flew away, but this shot illustrates why I love my 180mm macro so much. The small butterfly filled up much of the frame without me having to get right on top of it. The lens also captured a pretty good amount of detail too. If you click on the image, you can see some of the details of the butterfly’s green eye, for example.

Almost exactly a year ago, my photography mentor and muse,  Cindy Dyer, in whose garden I photographed this butterfly, challenged me to get a good image of a Cabbage White butterfly. A year later, I feel pretty confident in saying that I have met that particular challenge.

cabbage_yellow_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am finally starting to see more butterflies, like this Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) that I spotted recently in the cattails at my local marsh.

It seems like we had a slow start this year with butterflies compared with last year and I had been fearful that I would not be treated to their colorful displays that I enjoy so much. Gradually my concerns are disappearing as I see different varieties appear and I am happy that I can even identify some of them.

Sharp-eyed readers might notice that something does not look quite right with this photo. I rotated the image ninety degrees, because I found myself cocking my head when the butterfly was pointing downward.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How many kinds of black swallowtail butterflies can there possibly be? Until yesterday, the only black swallowtail that I had ever encountered was the black variant of the female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. (Check out my posting from last year to see the two variants of the female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a characteristic known as dimorphism.)

Yesterday, while walking along the boardwalk at my local marshland park, I came across a black butterfly feeding on a Buttonbush. Clearly it was a swallowtail and it was equally obvious that it was not an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. I remembered that there was another black swallowtail called a Spicebush, so I figured that was what it had to be. When I checked out the photos of the Spicebush Swallowtail on-line, though, none of them seemed to match my butterfly exactly.

It was only today, when I was looking through photos with my photograph mentor, Cindy Dyer, that I realized that there was yet another black swallowtail and have concluded that the unknown butterfly is almost certainly a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor). It looks a lot like the Spicesbush, but the pattern of the orange dots are different, as pointed out in this posting by Don Lambert on the Earth Science Picture of the Day blog.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I haven’t seen a huge number of butterflies this summer, so I was happy to see a colorful butterfly this past weekend, which I believe is a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).

UPDATE: My tentative identification as a Monarch was not correct. Thanks to Jeremy Sell at The Life of Your Time for his help in identifying this as a Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus archippus).

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It was fun chasing this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) around my neighbors’ garden as it moved from flower to flower. I tried to capture it from different perspectives and got some artsy looking shots that I really like.

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I have not yet seen many colorful butterflies this summer, so I was thrilled this past weekend when I observed a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) feeding on a Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and managed to get a couple of good shots.

The first image has a dreamy quality and a softness that I like, with a background that is almost pastel. The body of the butterfly is clearly visible, with its proboscis fully extended.

In the second shot, the colors are more vivid and the butterfly’s head is obscured. However, the wings are open wide and in a beautiful position.

My favorite is the first one. Is there one that you prefer?

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) may look very ordinary at first glance, but when you look more closely, you find that they have amazingly beautiful, green speckled eyes.

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The little skipper butterfly found a dandelion to be particularly appealing and I like this simple image that captured their brief encounter.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This past weekend I chased around this little butterfly—which I think may be a Summer Azure butterfly (Celastrina neglecta)—for quite some time until it finally landed.

This butterfly was really tiny, with a wing span of only about an inch (2.5 cm), so it was hard to get close enough to get a decent shot without spooking it. It took flight a couple of times, but landed nearby so I could continue the hunt.

It is always fun to photography the larger, more colorful butterflies like the Eastern Swallowtail or the Monarch, but I find that these little butterflies have a simple beautiful of their own.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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One of my neighbors, fellow blogger Cindy Dyer, now has lavender blooming in her garden. It smells wonderful and this Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) seemed to be really enjoying it earlier this afternoon.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have trouble identifying a lot of my photographic subjects, but skipper butterflies are among the toughest. Wikipedia says that are more than 3500 recognized species of skippers worldwide, so I don’t feel too bad about my difficulties.

As I perused photos on the internet, I came across a few shot of butterflies that looked at lot like the one that I photographed, and on that basis I am going to tentatively identify it as a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus).

I like the way in which the skipper was lit and he stayed perched long enough to permit to use my macro lens.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have been seeing little brown butterflies (or moths) flitting about in the woods recently, but have not gotten a good look at any of them, so I was thrilled when a Little Wood Satyr butterfly (Megisto cymela) landed on a nearby leaf this past Monday and remained long enough for me to get some shots.

I am not a hundred percent certain of my identification, because there are a lot of similar butterflies and the distinctions seem pretty subtle to me at the moment. Please let me know if you can identify this little butterfly with greater precision.

This is another photo in which I took the time to use my tripod and to focus carefully, shooting at a focal length just short of 400mm. The focus is a little soft, particularly for the leaf, but I think that it helps to give the image a kind of dreamy feel, though it’s a little early for a midsummer night’s dream.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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With thousands of gorgeous flowers blooming at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland today, this beautiful butterfly, which I think is a Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), chose to land on a lowly dandelion growing at the edge of a walkway. Why did it make that choice?

I had been chasing this butterfly around though several sections of the garden, hoping desperately that it would land somewhere within range of my 100mm macro lens. When it did finally land, I approached it cautiously and got a few shots handheld that came out pretty well. I am also including a shot that gives you an idea of the setting—there was a landscape timber to the left and a series of stone tiles that made up the walkway, and the dandelion was growing low to the ground at the edge of the walkway. The lighting was less than optimal, but sometimes you have to work with what you have, especially when the subject is likely to fly away at any moment.

I deliberated for quite some time over the identification of the butterfly. At first, I was sure that it was a Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos), which is orange and has brown spots. As I looked at more photos, though, I changed my mind and now think that it may be a Variegated Fritillary.

As always, I welcome assistance on the identification of my subjects.

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I was thrilled yesterday when I spotted this Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax), which brought to mind the two things that bothered me about this butterfly last year when I first encountered it.

The first thing is that the name makes no sense at all—there is not purple at all in the Red-spotted Purple butterfly. Secondly, I recalled that it was almost impossible to get a photogenic background with this butterfly. Bugguide notes that adult butterflies of this type take moisture from mud puddles, rotten fruit and animal feces and last year I always found them in the latter situation. I guess I should be happy that the background for these photos was a concrete path!

I took these shots with my telephoto zoom at close to 400mm and realize the limitations of the lens for this type of shot. Most significantly, I couldn’t get close enough to be able to frame this better and the size of the lens limited my agility, the more so because I had it on a tripod. Still, I am happy to capture colors like this that always help to brighten my day.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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