“I just need green. I need to wake up and see grass and squirrels. I don’t want to see skyscrapers.”
– André Leon Talley
There is arguably no better sense of fresh renewal than passing a rolling field of winter rye, its emerald locks rippling in the breeze. That lush green, vivid and energized, yet calming to every one of the senses, bestowing upon its gazer a new sense of hope and life. For most of us, we experience green on a daily basis…city parks, neighborhood wooded areas, the green of our own well-tended lawns. But have you ever experienced green through a butterfly? I mean…seriously think about that for a moment. It wouldn’t surprise me if your answer is a resounding “no.”
You see, butterflies clothed in green are pretty rare around the world. So you can imagine my surprise last spring when I caught this Photo Challenge favorite in Glen Rose while out on a hike with my son’s Cub Scout den. Scientists really don’t have a concrete answer as to why butterflies typically aren’t green, and even some that appear to be, like the Olive Juniper Hairstreak that I photographed here, actually don’t bear green pigment at all but rather employ a metallic refraction effect through wing scales that only reflect green light.
I appreciate and marvel the rare. I think most of us do. So there was no way this guy wouldn’t make the cut for the 2018 favorites. Clearly, his scales carry a lot of weight. 😉
All the best,
This butterfly species is about the size of a thumbnail. Caterpillar host plants include various junipers, thus giving the butterfly its name. This is an example of a species that is almost never seen with its wings fully open (although I caught a shot of that as well, surprisingly). My little guy is enjoying a sunny afternoon nectaring on wild blackberry blossoms.
[Check out Day 4 of the December Photo Challenge here.]
Welcome to Day 3 of my December Photo Challenge, where we go small. If you’ve followed this blog, you know how I love macro photography. Photographing in macro truly unveils the unseen naked eye world. To date, this is probably one of the smallest objects I have photographed. It’s the ova of a Reakirt’s Blue butterfly that I captured in our pollinator garden as the female was making her deposits. This is a beautiful little butterfly species that shimmers in blue, gold and copper, when it spreads its dorsal wings in the sunlight.
It’s remarkable that this lovely specimen begins as no more than a dot nestled within a tiny green bud. But, then again, look at you and me. We, too, began as mere specks with nothing more than promise. Just the fact that we exist is unfathomable. Go ahead, look over your shoulder and marvel at the wings you grew to carry you across distances, miles beyond numbering.
And, as you continue the journey, never forget that though you were small, yet are you great!
All the best,
The Reakirt’s Blue butterfly is a tiny species measuring only about 2.5 c.m. in diameter. Ants actually tend to the caterpillars, trading their body guard services for the sugary substances the caterpillars secrete. Females lay single eggs on each flower bud of the host plant, as the caterpillars prefer eating flowers and seed pods over leaves. Adult butterflies rarely sit still to open their wings, so it’s quite the surprise to catch one sunbathing and snap a pic.
[Check out Day 2 of the December Photo Challenge here.]
“How does one become butterfly?’ Pooh asked pensively. ‘You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,’ Piglet replied.“
– A. A. Milne
Rain, rain, go away. Does anyone else here feel this way?
I can’t remember a fall in North Texas, in recent years, that has been this wet. We finally got a break today for several hours, not really sunny hours, but at least hours without water. If I was grabbing my camera and dashing out for a break, so were all the insects, gathering as much pollen and nectar as insectly possible before the down-pours of evening hit again.
Before I actually realized I should make a break for it, I happened to look out the window with baby A. E. at the pollinator garden. She exclaimed, “Buddafly! I touch it!” And there they were…Monarchs everywhere! We easily counted eight just outside the window alone. I knew as soon as naptime rolled around that I had to get outside. You see, if you remember from my very first post on this blog, J. and I participate in Monarch Watch by tagging butterflies each fall. Last year we tagged twenty-five, but these were all hatched from caterpillars we collected off of Milkweed in our garden. This year it’s a different story. Our Milkweed has not been prolific enough to support caterpillars, so, at present, we are forced to try and tag wild butterflies passing through. Sometimes this can be difficult and then sometimes it can actually be easy.
On a day like today, where a break from rain is a blessing for everyone, the butterflies are willing to sit for longer periods of time to nectar. In those cases, you simply come up behind a butterfly with its wings closed and gently pinch the wings together. Then with your other hand you take a small sticker, that has already been pre-placed on the end of a toothpick, and roll it onto the central section of the hindwing. Then you slide your pinching hand down a bit and just press the hindwings together to make sure the sticker is secure. Let go, and the Monarch then continues on its merry way.
I reviewed the 2017 tagging data today from Monarch Watch to see if any of our butterflies from last year had been located in either Mexico or other parts of the United States and Canada. Sadly, none of our numbers were retrieved. But there’s always this year, and we’re trying to double our chances by tagging fifty! So far, we are at nine. If this rain keeps up, my hopes might be dashed in reaching our goal. We’ll just have to wait out the storms and see. That’s half of life, isn’t it? The “wait and see.”
In any event, one thing was crystal clear today…with the Monarchs came a plethora of Lepidoptera. There were seemingly butterflies and moths and caterpillars invading all corners of our space. It was spectacular! I couldn’t look in any direction without seeing a flit or a float. So, in honor of the Monarch and all the flutter of fall activity, I have chosen my seven favorite butterfly and moth photos from today for my photography week in review.
I guess you could really call this a week in review in a day! Hopefully next week will open up greater artistic opportunities, but this post does go to show that you can capture some pretty amazing things in a very short period of time. In fact, while someone else takes a nap, you can literally take in the world.