Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Butterflies

Late summer is a fine time to watch butterflies, and one of the best local places to do it is the National Arboretum. The Arboretum has several formal gardens plus a variety of meadow and edge habitats where butterflies are very active. While the birds are quieter and more reclusive now, many butterflies are out and about. The photographs that follow are all from my walk on Sunday.

One of the most apparent species is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, which is both common and large. This species is large enough to distract me during warbler season. When I am searching for tiny bird shapes flitting through the canopy, a flock of large butterflies will draw my attention more easily than the birds.

Note the yellow and black striping on the above swallowtail's body. I had not noticed that before I started taking pictures of this individual on Saturday. While the males are bright yellow, the females are mostly black. They can be distinguished from other dark swallowtails by the darker tiger stripes on their forewings (not visible in this photo).

This swallowtail took off as I was taking the photograph. All the swallowtail photographs are from the same patch of phlox in the Arboretum's herb garden.

Finally, the king of butterflies, the Monarch, was out on Sunday as well. Here is one feeding at sunflowers in a meadow near the columns. Monarchs can be distinguished from the mimic Viceroys by a line that crosses the hindwing of the Viceroy but not the Monarch. Here is a comparison.

Happy Friday, and I hope we get some cooler weather. Visit the Friday Ark #98 for more animal pictures.