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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Butterflies: Flying Flowers

One of the joys of gardening is seeing who comes to visit. In addition to planting for pretty, I also plant for pollinators--specifically butterflies. I have about a dozen butterfly bushes in my flower beds, and there is a reason for these plants to be so named. Each year, more species of butterflies fly, flutter and flit around my flowers. Keeping my camera at hand, I try to capture their images.

In today's post, I'll show just the visitors who have come by so far this year--and that I've been able to photograph. I'm sure there are some I missed. And there's still lots of summer left, and lots of time for new species to arrive. I have yet to see a Great Spangled Fritillary, which is a very pretty butterfly, but I think I love it because of it's name. You can see a photo of one of these creatures in last year's butterfly post.

I'll start with the LBBs: little brown butterflies. At first glance, they look the same; but with a closer inspection, you start to see the subtle differences.

With the help of books and website, I can usually identify the various species that visit. But I'll be the first to admit I'm no expert; in the pictures below, you'll see question marks when I'm making an educated guess.

Little Wood Satyr

Northern Broken Dash?

Male and female Sachem?


Fiery Skipper

Fiery Skipper

Horace's Duskywing

Least Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper: ventral view

Silver Spotted Skipper: dorsal view

Eastern Comma

Then there are the swallowtails, named for their distinctive long tails.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

Funny thing about eastern tiger swallowtails: not only do males and females look different, but the females also come in both yellow and black versions.

Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, dark form

Other visitors to my garden include these beauties:

American Lady

Cabbage butterfly

Common checkered skipper?

Red Admiral

Orange sulfur

One of my favorites--and the butterfly that is so easily recognized--is the Monarch. Bright orange and black--and incredibly photogenic--these beauties love to pose for my camera.


One of the butterfly identification websites I use is Gardens with Wings. I completely understand the reason for the name. With so many colors, butterflies look like flowers that have taken wing. Like this:


And this:

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