Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Spangled Fritillary

I’ve been seeing a few Great Spangled Fritillaries the past couple of weeks, but I think the bulk have emerged as one swarm. Great Spangled Fritillaries are suddenly everywhere in tremendous numbers.

This is one of my favorite butterflies. It’s big, showy, common and fairly tolerant of close inspection. They are all over the place now, but they have really congregated around the available nectar sources.

These individuals are nectaring on Grey Dogwood, planted in the 1980’s as part of the ODNR Division of Wildlife habitat improvement program. There were dozens of butterflies on this one shrub. At times, they would all take to the air and circle the bush before settling back down to the flowers. This is the kind of display that really impresses the kids.

This pupal skin was left behind by an emerging Great Spangled Fritillary. The pupa was attached to the side of a cardboard box in my barn. I was tearing down boxes to take to the recycling center and this particular box kept rattling. I finally found the pupa twisting its base into the silk anchor and trying to get rid of the crumpled larval skin. I left the box untouched and kept checking the pupa. I missed the emergence by a few hours. I came into the barn to find the butterfly hanging on the box. It took off and started beating against the window, so I opened the window and let it out.

This decomposing rabbit carcass was almost as attractive to the Fritillaries as the dogwood blooms. From the looks of the carcass, I think the rabbit fell prey to Red-shouldered Hawks I’ve been seeing around the area.

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