I carry my camera with me at all times, always going for that perfect shot. In the winter, I’m obsessed with the birds visiting the feeder but in the summer, I’m gaga for the flitty, flighty butterflies, moths and bees that come checking out the garden. And basically, any other interesting bug within my sightlines.
I hit the jackpot in June when I spent the whole day on the Kalamazoo Valley River Trail near the Nature Center. I was a volunteer at the rest stop for a local fundraiser; a bicycle tour with routes for 15 miles, 33 miles, 61 miles and 100 miles. It was a beautiful day to be out-of-doors and the rest stop was in a lovely location. We had a lot of flowering plants and shrubs and milkweeds so the insect life was active.
I’m not very good at identifying butterflies since there are so many that look alike. I’ll take a stab at naming them but let me know if I’m wrong and I’ll be happy to make the correction.
Great Spangled Fritillary- This guy was very large, about 3-4 inches of wingspan and very good about posing for me. He or she hung out with the milkweed. What a beauty.
Viceroy Butterfly – You can tell he’s not a Monarch because of the black stripe that goes through the hindwings. The Monarch Butterfly has no stripe. this photo was taken at Bishop’s Bog, with wonderful nature trails that run through a relic bog. (A relic bog is a microclimate made up of tundra plants, better suited for a more northern climate. This bog was created when the glaciers from the last ice age melted. )
Northern Pearly Eye - There were several of them flitting in and out of a nearby garbage recepticle so I’m assuming that there must have been something that attracted them. Maybe an apple core or banana peel?
I was fascinated by this festive moth. It looked as though he had been put together from the parts of 3 different insects. He had a bright orange head, iridescent blue body and soft brown wings. The Virginia Ctenuchid moth is his name and he and several of his buddies were attracted to a flowering shrub with small white blossoms.
Least Skipper – Very tiny, only about an inch at the most. These little guys were all around the milkweed and other flowering native flowers, zipping in between the plants and barely stopping. I love the wing formation when resting, with the lower wing horizontal and upper wing almost vertical.
Eastern Comma – about 2 1/2 inches across. Though I had seen pictures of Commas and Questionmarks and thought these butterflies had the greatest names, I had never actually seen one before. I was very excited to get this photo!
Cabbage Butterflies puddling. Butterflies gather at mud puddles to drink the water and dissolved nutrients from the soil. This puddle had more mud than water but there were still several whites taking advantage of the damp ground.
Clymene Moth - I was visiting Fernwood Botanical Gardens and while hiking the nature trails looking for the St. Joseph River, I almost stepped on this striking moth. I thought he looked like a race car or a supersonic jet – with racing stripes.
Silver Spotted Skipper – Last weekend I decided to visit the 5 Senses Garden here in Kalamazoo. There was a beautiful patch of blue salvia with at least 20 or 30 of these little butterflies zipping around. It was difficult to catch them at rest and impossible to take a photo with the wings extended. They just wouldn’t settle down. The size was about 2 1/2 inches which is large for a skipper.
Swallowtail – I’m guessing that it is a Spicebush Swallowtail but I’m not sure. I was taking photos of a local community garden and when I saw him flitting by, followed him to the nearby drainage ditch to grab this shot. Everyone thinks that Monarchs are the royalty of the butterfly world, but I think that Swallowtails are so much more regal.