Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Satyr Chase Concludes

My days of pursuing the Carolina Satyr have come to a close.  After chasing after several dozen small Satyrs, I have finally procured some decent shots of this elusive butterfly.

Each time I saw a small Satyr land, I would take a long distance shot and then zoom in on the display to see which Satyr I had found.  After a while I got pretty good at distinguishing between the three possible species just by their flight behavior.

Each stationary Carolina Satyr meant a stealthy approach to a good camera position.  This individual landed near a bushy Indian Hemp plant, so I used the plant to screen my approach.  By sticking the camera through the branches of the hemp, I was able to get close to the butterfly.  Each time the wind blew, I rocked the plant a little farther forward until my target was only a couple of feet away.  The down side to this plan was the fact that Allegheny Mound Ants had claimed that particular hemp plant and were doing their best to convince me to abandon my mission.  I persevered, but wrapped things up as quickly as possible.

Just a few feet away I stumbled into another opportunity to get shots of the Carolina Satyr.  I’m now satisfied that I have photos showing the distinguishing marks of this species.

Eighty percent of the small Satyrs I viewed were Gemmed Satyrs. I’ve never before seen this species in such large numbers.  Since I already had a few decent shots of this species, I didn’t pursue them any farther.

Apparently, this Gemmed Satyr didn’t like being left out.  While I was standing at the edge of a small clearing, the butterfly flew over and came to rest on the knee of my pant leg.

The butterfly was enjoying a little sweat treat.  The temperature was in the lower 90’s and I had been out for several hours.  Everything I was wearing was pretty much soaked in sweat.  I guess I’m lucky I wasn’t mobbed by butterflies and sweat bees.  While it was drinking, the butterfly opened its wings slightly to give a view of the upper surface of the hind wing.  A faint outline of the spot pattern can be seen.

I saw just one Little Wood Satyr.  Its wings were a bit battered and torn.  August first is about the end of the season for Little Wood Satyrs.  The flight period for the Gemmed and Carolina Satyrs runs on until around the first of September.  I’ll still be seeing them for a while, but my chasing days are over for now.


  1. Damned ants! You showed 'em. Heh, heh.

    I almost always pass up satyrs for showier fare, but nice pictures and photographer/butterfly natural history!

  2. Hi James. The ants began by attacking my hat. By the time a few got around to my ears and neck, there must have been 50 of them. I made sure to brush them all onto the ground where they could make it back to their own nest.

  3. Nice captures. They must be pretty hard to spot.

  4. Thanks Pat. The butterflies are easy to see when they are flying. The hard part is seeing where they land and then getting close enough for a good look.