Friday, August 4, 2017

Silvery Checkerspots

I usually don’t see more than a half dozen Silvery Checkerspot butterflies at Blue Jay Barrens in any one year.  This has been a constant situation for over 30 years, even though we have an abundance of Wingstem, the Silvery Checkerspot’s host plant.  For some reason, Silvery Checkerspots are everywhere this year, and I am enjoying the spectacle.

A couple of days ago, I sat beside a patch of Orange Coneflower that was being visited by about a dozen of the small black and orange butterflies.  I just watched the show for quite a while before turning on the camera.  I had never had any luck getting a good photo of this species, but I knew that was about to change.

After a few minutes, the butterflies resumed their nectaring and chasing activities as though I was just another part of the landscape.  That’s one of the neat things about many animals.  Their brains don’t interpret inanimate objects as threats, so if you can get yourself situated without scaring them away, the animal will soon continue with its normal activities.

video
The above video shows an interesting behavior associated with nectaring on the coneflowers.  The butterfly would pivot atop the flower head and probe each open floret as it went.  Some butterflies turned clockwise, while others turned the opposite direction.  Individual butterflies that I followed from flower to flower, each turned in the same direction as it had on the previous flower.  My sample size wasn’t large enough to make any valid statistical conclusions, but I began to wonder if butterflies could be right-handed or left-handed.

4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're seeing them this year, it's a nice diversion from pulling teasel! We had an eruption of red admirals a few years back and I thought we'd see the same this year as the nettles were thick and lush and I saw many folded leaves... but then nothing. A few showed but I was hoping for masses!

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    1. Hi, Frank. I guess it just proves that we don't know all of the variables influencing these animals' lives.

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  2. I've never seen one of those here.

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    1. Hi, Stew. The range of the Silvery Checkerspot includes Southern Ontario, so there's a chance you may see one some day.

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