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Posts Tagged ‘Limenitis archippus’

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the first day of autumn. In my area, today’s high temperature is forecast to reach 90 degrees (32 degrees C), so it does not really feel like autumn yet. However, it is beginning to look like autumn, with browns and orange tones starting to appear in the landscape.

Fortunately there are still lots of butterflies around, like this Viceroy Butterfly (Limenitis archippus) that I spotted last Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The color palette of this shot really speaks to me of this new season.

Given that seasons are determined differently in different places by using meteorological or astrological calendars, I probably should try to be scrupulously inclusive and wish everyone a Happy September Equinox Day rather than Happy Autumn.

UPDATE: I took this shot while photowalking with fellow photographer and blogger, Walter Sanford. We did not talk about when we/if we might post an image of this butterfly, but it turns out he also posted one today. Checking out his posting if you like to read another take on our adventure and see a slightly different approach to photographing this butterfly. Walter and I have different backgrounds that affect the way we express ourselves in our words and in our images. Our complementary posts help to remind me that “reality” is as much subjective as it is objective.

Viceroy

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this pretty Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) last Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Viceroy has the same coloration as the Monarch, but has a line across its hind wings that is not present on the Monarchs. As I have learned more  about insects, I have been amazed to find how often insects have adapted to mimic other species that predators may find bad-tasting or even toxic.

Viceroy

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I have not yet spotted any Monarch butterflies this season, but last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I did see a number of the similarly-colored Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus). Viceroy butterflies are smaller than Monarchs, but the main visual difference between the two is the black line across the hind wings that is present with Viceroys, but not with Monarchs.

I chased after one Viceroy last week for quite some time and eventually managed to get these shots.

Viceroy

Viceroy

Viceroy

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Today I decided to feature two butterflies that I have seen over the past week. I saw them at different times and at different places, so normally I would not put them together in a posting.

I was struck, however, by the contrast between the two of them. One of them, a Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus), is brightly colored and hard to miss. The other, a Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) is so pale and nondescript that many people don’t notice it at all or dismiss it as being “only” a moth.

Beauty speaks to people in individual deeply personal ways. I find these two butterflies to be equally beautiful.

What do you think? Instinctively do you find one of these two to be more beautiful than the other?

Of course, there is no “right” answer. It seems to me that beauty is almost always subjective rather than universal. Our assessments of beauty tend to be influenced by a whole host of internal factors including our mood, personality, and background as much as by the external characteristics of the subject being considered.

Viceroy butterfly

Cabbage White butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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I suppose that I should call this a royal posting for it features both a viceroy and a queen. Of course, here in the USA we don’t have a monarchy, but that doesn’t keep us from having Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) and Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota). I spotted this royal pair on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge where the Viceroy repeated probed the clusters of Queen Anne’s Lace.

You probably have noticed that the coloration of the Viceroy butterfly matches that of the Monarch butterfly. One of the easiest ways to tell them apart is the black line across the hind wings which is present with Viceroys but not with Monarchs.

Viceroy butterfly

Viceroy butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As we move closer and closer to the end of the summer, many of the butterflies are starting to show the effects of time, with faded colors and missing pieces of their wings. Yet somehow, at least in my eyes, their beauty is undiminished, like this Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) that I spotted this past week at my favorite local marshland park.

viceroy butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A few years ago I probably would have misidentified this butterfly as a Monarch because of its coloration. Now, however, I can tell immediately that it is a Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus), because there is a black stripe across the hindwings that the Monarch lacks.

I spotted this beautiful little butterfly this past Monday as I was searching for dragonflies and other creatures in a remote area of Huntley Meadows Park, the marshland area where I take many of my photos. A significant number of the areas that I like to visit are at least partially flooded. The month of June that we just ended turned was the second most rainy June on record for the region (and the rain has continued into July).

As I take more and more photos, I keep learning more and more about my subjects as I try to figure out what I have shot. What amazes me is that I manage to retain some of that information and can use it to identify a subject, as I did in this case. It’s not that easy most of the time (at least for me).

Viceroy butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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