Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Buttonbush’

Over the years I have gradually learned which plants tend to attract butterflies and Buttonbushes (Cephalanthus occidentalis) are one of my favorites.  The plant’s spiky spherical flowers are quite distinctive and make a nice compositional element in a photo. I used to mentally associate these flowers with medieval weapons, but nowadays when people see one, they can’t help but think of the well-publicized structure of the Covid-19 virus.

Last week I spotted this Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) nectaring on a buttonbush flower at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I was hoping that one of the Monarchs that were fluttering by would also stop to sip at one of these photogenic flowers, but the Monarchs seemed to prefer the taste of the swamp milkweed flowers.

Silver-spotted Skipper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio glaucus) were really busy on the buttonbushes (Cephalanthus occidentalis) at Huntley Meadows Park recently, including what looks to be a dark morph female. Females of this species are dimorphic—there are both yellow morphs and dark morphs—but males are only yellow.

If you look closely at the second image you’ll see that I managed to capture a “bonus bug.” a bee that is also feeding on the buttonbush. My photography mentor likes to use the term “bonus bug” to refer to insects  in our photos whose presence was unknown at the time the photos were taken.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Butterflies were really active this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park, especially around the buttonbushes (Cephalanthus occidentalis). A dark swallowtail butterfly caught my eye and my mind raced to remember how to distinguish among the various dark swallowtails. Fortunately I had enough presence of mind to capture some images, knowing I could search different resources when I got home.

I’m pretty confident that the butterfly in question is a Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor). One of its distinguishing characteristics is a single row of orange spots in the shape of a C. As I was searching the internet, I came across a wonderful posting by Louisana Naturalist that has side-by-side photos of four different dark swallowtails —the Black Swallowtail, the dark morph of the female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the Spicebush Swallowtail, and the Pipevine Swallowtail.

As I was trying to get a shot of this butterfly, which was in constant motion, another insect decided to photobomb us. I think it is a bee and I am including a photo of the photobombing insect just for fun.

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I first spotted this small Common Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia) as it was flying low above a grassy patch at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. Periodically it would stop and I would attempt to get a shot of it. It was probably hilarious to watch our little pas de deux—the butterfly would fly and perch and I would bend my knees and crouch, which served as a signal for the butterfly to take off again.

I’m pretty patient, so we danced this way for quite a while before the butterfly decided to perch on some low vegetation rather than on the bare ground. I was finally able to capture a shot, though the butterfly didn’t pose long before taking off again.

Common Buckeye

As I continued the chase, my knees started getting a bit sore. I was thinking of giving up the chase when suddenly the butterfly flew higher into the air and landed on a buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). These bushes are a virtual magnet for butterflies and I love the spiky spheres of the plant. I wasn’t able to get very close to the buttonbush, but captured this image that I really like.

Common Buckeye

The chase ended here and we went our separate ways. I hope that I never get too old or too self-conscious to chase butterflies, a pursuit that makes me feel like a carefree child again.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Buttonbushes are now blooming at my local marsh, attracting beautiful butterflies, including this Pipevine Swallowtail and this Great Spangled Fritillary.

I don’t know what it is about the Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), but butterflies seem to find it irresistible. Several Pipevine Swallowtails (Battus philenor) flitted all around the bushes in frenetic motion, hardly every stopping to perch. The Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele), however, seemed to take its time, lingering over each of the spiky spherical globes of the buttonbush.

pipevine2_blogpipevine1_blogspangled_bush_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

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.

pipevine1_blogpipevine2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Can you name the most recognized Skipper in North America?  According to Wikipedia, it’s the Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly (Epargyreus clarus), shown here clinging to a Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) in a shot I took recently at my local marshland park.

I love the spiky look of the Buttonbush and it seems to attract a lot of butterflies. The skipper’s colors may be a little drab, but I am happy that it is easy to identify, given that there are over 3500 different species of skippers, according to a different article in Wikipedia.

spotted_skipper_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

I am always amazed that butterflies can fly with wings that are severely damaged. This morning I encountered this beautiful female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) that had suffered some major damage to the area where the wings attach to the body. Despite the tears to the wings, the butterfly seemed unhindered in its flight and was busily at work, flying from bush to bush.

wounded_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

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?

swallowtail_blogswallowtail2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »