Monday, August 2, 2010

Butterflies

I continue to chase butterflies, finding both their photographic capture and subsequent identification to be difficult.  The critter in the upper photograph is a Common Sulphur.  The clue here is the small black dots on the back side of the upper wing. This butterfly is common across most of the United States.  The flower is Purpletop Vervain, Verbena bonariensis.  The plant is native to South America and has been introduced worldwide.  It is a common garden plant and has escaped into the wild, especially in the southern United States.  Butterflies love them.
Among the Common Sulphurs, I noticed a few much more orange individuals.  These are probably Orange Sulphurs.  Historically Orange Sulphurs have moved north, hybridizing with Common Sulphers along the way. The hybrids do not survive as well as either parental stock (Alexander Klots. 1951. A Field Guide to the Butterflies.)

I am less confident about the identification of this third butterfly.  I am fairly certain it is one of a group of six or so species called Angle Wings.  The species are difficult to tell apart, but I concluded, due to its relatively dark hind wings, that the lower photo is of a Comma Butterfly.  Commas are also widespread and common.  Commas feed on nettles and elms, both of which grow nearby.

I welcome any input from those of you who know more about butterflies than do I!

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