On sunny days at this time of the year a few early butterflies are flying in Eliza Howell Park. Among them are two tiny blue ones that challenge one’s butterfly-watching skills.
They usually fly rapidly and close to the ground, in the typically erratic butterfly pattern, and then alight. And seem to disappear.
When perched, their wings are closed and the distinctive blue shade that had caught my attention is hidden.
Recently, I was able to locate two different ones for a closer look.
There is just a hint here, in the slightly open wings, of the blue that gives this species its nane: Spring Azure.This picture was taken in late April, when they first begin to appear, having spent the winter in chrysalis form.
Spring Azure has a wingspan of an inch to a little more. Even at this small size it is probably slightly larger than the species in the next photo, taken at the beginning of May.
This is an Eastern Tailed-Blue, probably newly emerged. They also tend to close their wings when not flying, but sometimes show (some) blue
E. Tailed-Blues have 2 orange spots together on the undersides of their hind wings, by the little “tails.” A picture taken last year shows this quite clearly.
Spring Azure has neither the orange nor the tail.
Spring Azure is usually around only from late April until June, but there is a Summer variation (referred to as Summer Azure) that can be seen later. It is very similar and in the butterfly literature is sometimes referred to as a subspecies and sometimes as a separate species.
E. Tailed-Blue has a longer seasonal presence, which provides more opportunity to get a picture of it showing its blue while perched.
Among the more than 30 butterfly species that visit Eliza Howell each year there are very few blue ones.These two are the most common and it is exciting to see them both early in the season — despite the fact that we usually only get a glimpse of the blue when they fly by.
It will be weeks before I am likely to see my favorite larger blue butterfly, a Red-spotted Purple.