Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Walking the Butterfly Transit at Brukner Nature Center, Sunday, June 2,2013

Sunday at 2 PM was a good time to look for butterflies.  The sun was shining and the temperature was in the mid-seventies (Fahrenheit)  The previous  butterfly walk days this season were chilly so we saw very few butterflies.

Three walkers carried good quality cameras and I had my little one.  Photographs of butterflies, if the observers can snap them, are an excellent means of identifying butterflies.

There were eight of us which means there were lots of eyes to spot our prey.  We found butterflies in seven of the ten distinct areas of the transit.

In the sunny area behind the photographers we found two butterflies that look very similar.  Both were spread-wing on the mowed vegetation.

This is the most common one, Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos).  Wingspan: 1.25-1.60 inches (3.2-4 cm.)  I remember someone telling me long ago that it is called Pearl Crescent  because it has a silvery pearl colored crescent on its underside.  Pearl Crescents often fly  less  than twelve inches above the grass on trails or in yards.  They land on plant leaves just far enough away to make absolute identification difficult.

Here is the Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis).  Wingspan: 1.4-2.0 inches (3.6-5.1 cm.)

The slightly larger size is not noticeable to me.  If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the white spots along the border of the hind wings which identify it.  Each hind wing has one white spot in the black border and a second white spot in the orange directly above it.The pearl crescent border has no white spots.
The Silvery Checkerspot has silvery bands on its underside. This was a new species for me.  I had never heard of it before and therefore, never looked for it.

Quite a few Azures (Celastrina) were flying low over the vegetation along the Brukner Drive.  The majority of the group thought this one was a Summer Azure. (Celastrina neglecta).  We also have Spring Azures in this area (Celastrina laden).  The Spring Azure is usually found in Ohio in mid-March through May and the Summer Azure is found in June through the end of September.  In these species the males and females are colored differently.

The Azures are tiny butterflies.  Wingspan is 0.75-1.25 inches (2.0-3.2 cm). I often see the tiny bits of blue flying when I walk the prairie trails at Charleston Falls.  The sitting butterfly is hard to find.  Usually they sit with wings together so look for a very small blue triangle half the size of the listed wingspan.  They often are found at muddy spots, maybe sipping up needed minerals.

There are other tiny blue butterflies as well.

And here is another of those "looks like something else" butterflies.  But we know definitely that this is an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma).  Ruth captured it in the net and we got a good look at the underside.  We saw the silver comma on both of its hind wings.  The similar species of Anglewing has a comma and a dot and is called ...Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis).

These are middle-sized butterflies in our area.  The Eastern Comma has a  wingspan of 2.0-2.4 (5.1-6.1 cm) and the Question Mark is similarly sized.  Its wingspan is 2.25-3.00 inches (5.7-7.6 cm.)  I see these flying at eye level or higher as I walk the trails in Miami County woodlands.

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