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The last few years it has been pretty rare for me to see a Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Most of the time when I thought I had spotted one, it turned out to be a similar-looking Viceroy Butterfly.

I was therefore really excited when I spotted a Monarch Butterfly fluttering about in a clump of what I think is some kind of milkweed during a brief trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Garden this past weekend. The butterfly seemed to be unusually skittish—it would perch for only a split second and then take off again. When it would decide to perch for a slightly longer period of time, inevitably it would bury itself among the vegetation, making a clear shot almost impossible.

I waited and waited and finally was able to get this almost unobstructed shot of the spectacular butterfly. Even in America we celebrate this kind of Monarch.

Monarch Butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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

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

 

Snowberry Clearwing moth

Snowberry Clearwing moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I love the colorful patterns on the wings of a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), but rarely have the chance to see one. Therefore, I was pretty excited when I spotted one from a distance last week at Huntley Meadows Park, my favorite marshland location for nature photography.

I moved a little closer to get some initial shots with my Tamron 150-600mm lens fully extended. Generally I use my long zoom for birds more often than for dragonflies.  In this case, however, the lens turned out to be a better choice than my macro lens, because the dragonfly flew away when I took a couple of steps toward it and I never saw it again.

Most of the Halloween Pennant dragonflies that I have observed in the past have had wings that were more amber-colored than those of this individual, but the wing pattern is so distinctive that I am pretty sure about my identification. In addition to the wonderful wings, I was really struck by the length and two-toned color of this dragonfly’s legs.

Halloween Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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