Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dry Pond Butterflies

The tadpole stew that was left behind after the pond went dry is attracting a wide range of butterfly species. A Giant Swallowtail spent over an hour sucking up the nutritious goo. This is the first time I’ve ever seen one of these super sized butterflies sit still.

The Buckeye is an immigrant species that can’t survive Ohio winters and must reestablish itself from southern populations each year. I typically see this species in September as it suns itself in open areas. It’s not a normal pond bottom feeder.

Spicebush Swallowtails are regular visitors to mud puddles. Spicebush, the host plant of this particular butterfly, is not very common at Blue Jay Barrens. Fortunately, the butterfly also utilizes Sassafras as a larva food source and Sassafras grows here in abundance.

Pearl Crescents are always common visitors to the damp pond bottom. Sometimes found with the Pearl Crescents is the similar, but slightly larger Silvery Checkerspot. That’s the Silvery Checkerspot with its wings partially opened. Silvery Checkerspots tend to standout in a crowd of Pearl Crescents because of the sharp detail of the pattern on the underside of the hind wing. They are also slightly larger and display a flight pattern that seems more under control than that of the Pearl Crescents.

Pearl Crescents and Eastern Tailed Blues are the most dependable pond bottom visitors. They’ll visit every year even when the mud hasn’t been enhanced by a mass of decomposing amphibian larvae. Butterflies haven’t been overly abundant this year, so I have to think that the presence of the tadpoles has been a factor in attracting the more uncommon species to the pond bottom.

Several Skipper species have also swarmed into the mud flats. Peck’s Skippers numbered in the dozens. I like the skippers that show a little bit of recognizable patterning. It helps a lot with the identification.

There were also several unadorned skippers flitting about. This type and another with a more golden coloration were quite abundant. I’ve not yet mastered all of these skippers, so this one will remain unnamed today. Skipper ID is just another interesting thing I can look forward to pursuing in the future.


  1. Wonderful images! The third to last reminds me of water ballet, only this would be mud ballet. Very nice!

  2. Beautiful! Butterflies are sparse where I am right now - I would love to come across a sight like this.

  3. Hi, Wanda. Someday I'd like to build a screen house so I could raise captive butterflies.

    Thanks, Lois. They do seem to be forming a nice circle. Maybe they would start performing if I played them a little music.

    Hi, Rebecca. Butterfly numbers have been low here too. I was just lucky to get the perfect attractant.

  4. Thank you for posting these mud puddling photos! For awhile I thought I would not find examples from places I go. They are excellent, as is your info. :-)

  5. Thank you for posting such good photos of butterflies mud puddling!