Monday, June 27, 2011

Butterflyweed and Butterflies

The Butterflyweed is joining the list of plants that are displaying an excess of vigor this growing season. Bright clusters of orange blossoms are popping up all over the field. I’m not a great fan of the flower itself. It just seems a little garish to me. What I admire is its ability to gather a large number of butterfly species in one place for easy viewing.

I don’t know how butterfly vision responds to this display, but if I can see a clump of blooming Butterflyweed from across the field, I’m sure the butterfly can do the same. There was a definite reason for putting butterfly in the plant’s name. If you want to stay in one place and have the butterflies come to you, beside a Butterflyweed is a good place to be. I could sit for hours watching the butterflies come and go.

Edward’s Hairstreaks have made a successful emergence. I saw several over the weekend.

Coral Hairstreaks can’t resist the flowers of the Butterflyweed. The orange spots on the hindwing might indicate the Coral Hairstreak’s preferred color.

The flowers sometimes get a bit crowded. Some butterflies spend long periods of time drinking nectar from these blooms. It’s almost impossible to get a picture of a butterfly that’s not drinking.

Great Spangled Fritillaries are around in moderate numbers. It’s nothing like the masses of fritillaries that emerged in 2009.

Clouded Sulphurs are not yet abundant. They seem to reach their peak later in the summer.

Not all of the butterflies are present as adults. This clump of Butterflyweed averaged two Monarch larvae per stalk. I once found a Monarch larva on a milkweed growing in the fence row of the elementary school. It was the first day of school and also my birthday. I was excited about seeing it, so I told my sixth grade teacher that I had seen a Monarch Butterfly larva. She told me it was correctly referred to as a caterpillar and that it wouldn’t be a butterfly until later. I patiently explained that it was still a butterfly, that it was just another stage of development. There ensued a scholarly debate which culminated in my winning a trip to see the principal. He agreed with my view, but said I should not argue with the teacher. I don’t know how he ever expected her to learn.


  1. at least they are not meretricious ;).

  2. Hey, Michael, you're making me get out my dictionary. But now that I have, I agree with you.