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Friday, August 5, 2011

Great Spangled Fritillary!

One of the great pleasures of having a garden is the many visitors it attracts--and I'm talking about the non-mammalian kind.

Along with flowers come pollinators, including butterflies, moths and bees. When I take my camera into the garden, I find I am more likely to slow down and look closely at the petals, stems and leaves to see who has come to visit.

With the help of a guidebook and Google, I can usually guess at the insect species I've found. The rest of the time, I am quite clueless. If any of my readers has a few more clues than I do, I'd love help in identifying my visitors.

Take a look at my guest book so far this summer; this week's post will just focus on the butterflies who stop by. :
A Tiger Swallowtail seems to be loving the camera almost as much as the butterfly bush.

Another view of a Tiger Swallowtail. Even its body is tiger striped.

These are Black Swallowtail caterpillars. Every year they find my dill and eat it leafless. But there is plenty of dill for all to share.  I don't have a picture of this guy as a butterfly yet, but he looks a lot like the Spicebush Swallowtail shown below.

Some butterflies look very different depending on whether you're look at them from the bottom (ventral) or the top (dorsal). The Spicebush Swallowtail shown here is demonstrating the ventral view.

Here is the dorsal view of a Spicebush Swallowtail.

A Cabbage White butterfly demonstrates another way to look at the ventral view, as it feeds on purple loosestrife.

A dorsal view of the Cabbage White. For some reason, I always seem to see these butterflies in pairs, but they move so fast, I am never able to catch two in the viewfinder at the same time.

Dozens of small brown butterflies also gather and feed in my garden. Tiny, they are often eclipsed by their showier relatives, and I have to admit I have trouble identifying them. This is a skipper; it's maybe 1/4 inch from stem to stern, as seen here. This type of skipper has a kind of double folded wing, but it turns out, so do a dozen or so others. The group is known as folded wing skippers, but I can only guess which particular one this is.

Here you can see the folded wings on this skipper. Don't know what he is either.

Two folded wing skippers alternate between feeding and resting.

Horace's Duskywing is quite a bit bigger than most of the skippers, even if it is mostly brown in color like they are. With a wingspan of about an inch and a half, he's much easier to identify.

The Silver Spotted Skipper is a very common visitor. At any given moment, a half dozen of these creatures are flitting in and out and among my butterfly bushes.

For many people, the Monarch is the archetypical "butterfly." This monarch was posing on Purpletop Vervain, otherwise known as Verbena bonariensis.

Monarchs like the butterfly bush, too. I think everybody does.

 I would love this butterfly just for its name: Great Spangled Fritillary! Sounds like an exclamation: "Great Spangled Fritillary, Martha, is that a moose in the back yard?"

My garden is so much more than just flowers; it is a place of bright colors and constant movement.  A living work of art, it is made all the more precious by the knowledge that its beauty and wonder are short lived.


  1. Susan- I love your photos and everything in between! Keep up the good work! ~Laura from Hair Port

    1. Thanks Laura. I'm so glad you like the blog! I have lots of fun taking pictures and am happy to share. :-)