2018 Butterflies: A Top 10 List

2018 has been a very good year for butterflies in Eliza Howell Park. Recently I saw the 30th different species of the year (30 species that I was able to identify; there are some small brown skippers that I do not know well enough).

It was also a good butterfly year in that I was more successful in photographing them, learning to get close enough to capture them with a phone camera. The pictures here were all taken in the park this year.

This list could have been considerably longer, but these ten are the ones that I’d like to call to the reader’s attention at this time.

Common Buckeye (first seen September 11; photo September 11)

20180911_135705

Though called “common,” I don’t see many Common Buckeyes in Eliza Howell. When I do see one, it is usually late in the season. They are a more southern species, at least for much of the season. In Michigan in football season it may be appropriate to point out that the “Buckeye” name has nothing to do with Ohio. 

Black Swallowtail (first seen May 29; photo September 7)

20180907_143915

Male and female Black Swallowtails look a little different; this is a female. Black Swallowtails are common and are often found in gardens. Parsley family plants serve as food plants for the caterpillars.

Viceroy (first seen August 4; photo August 10)

20180810_125821

Viceroy butterflies look like Monarch butterflies and benefit from the Monarch’s reputation among birds for being toxic. Ordinarily, Viceroys have a clear black band across the hindwings (a line which Monarchs do not have), but that line is extremely faint in this one.

Monarch (first seen May 24; photo August 6)

20180806_111514

Monarchs are the most famous butterfly in country, known for their annual migration, their dependence on milkweed plants, and their recent decline in numbers. I don’t know the long-term implications, but there were a great number of Monarchs in southeast Michigan this year – and in Eliza Howell Park.

Tiger Swallowtail (first seen May 31; photo August 2)

20180913_201118

Tiger Swallowtails were also common this year, showing up frequently throughout the summer.

Silver-spotted Skipper (first seen June 24; photo July 26)

20180913_200415

Roughly one third of all butterfly species in North America are skippers and, as a rule, they are very difficult to identify. The Silver-spotted Skipper is the most easily recognized of the skippers, perhaps reason enough to like it.

Common Checkered-Skipper (first seen June 29; photo July 24)

20180724_160952

The Common Checkered-Skipper, considered the most common and widespread skipper in North America, is also relatively easy to recognize. The males sometimes appear a little blue.

Giant Swallowtail (first seen July 17; photo July 17)

20180913_200143

The Giant Swallowtail is fairly common in more southerly regions of the country, but not here. I feel fortunate any year that it shows up in Eliza Howell. Compared with many butterflies, it is indeed a giant.

American Lady (first seen May 31; photo July 14)

20180714_134813

American Lady and Painted Lady are both found here; this year I saw American Lady a little more frequently. The Ladies, especially Painted Lady, migrate seasonally as Monarchs do.

Hackberry Emperor (first seen June 11; photo June 11)

20180913_200859

I don’t know why a small family of butterflies is called “Emperor,” but the “Hackberry” name comes from the fact that the hackberry tree is the larval food plant. They are not common in Eliza Howell.

In the middle of September, butterfly activity is slowing down and the Monarch migration to Mexico is well started. But there are still some butterflies around and it is not too late for a butterfly walk.  

 

 

 

Advertisements

Giant Swallowtail and Hummingbird Moth – and Bergamot

Giant Swallowtail and Hummingbird Moth have at least two things in common: they have both been seen in Eliza Howell Park during the past week and they are both partial to the blossoms and nectar of Wild Bergamot.

Giant Swallowtail is the largest butterfly in North America, with a wingspan of about 5 inches.

20180717_170224

Southern Michigan is the northern edge of its normal geographical range and some years I do not see them at all in the park. Since July 15 this year, one and sometimes two have been flittering among the large wildflowers in the field outside the road loop. They stop their flight, when they do, on a Wild Bergamot flower.

20180726_141203

It is, I think, a combination of their size and the fact that they are not common in Detroit that always make it exciting to see one.

The Snowberry Clearwing Moth is commonly called the Hummingbird Moth (a name I like) because it looks and acts a lot like a hummingbird. It flies from flower to flower, never landing, using its proboscis to sip nectar while it hovers in the air.

20180726_103152

It is a daytime-active moth that shows up every year in Eliza Howell. Its wingspan is about 1 and 1/2 inches. Active among bumblebees, it somewhat resembles them, though it does not crawl over the flower as bumblebees do.

20180726_104318

Wild Bergamot is one of the wildflowers, like Purple Coneflower, that is a magnet for butterflies, bees, and other insects. Bergamot is a type of Monarda, as is Bee Balm, a flower that many gardeners grow precisely because they want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

20180726_110304

The Wild Bergamot in Eliza Howell is nearing the end of its blooming season, but it retains its power to attract.

Each of the butterflies in the next picture was photographed while visiting Bergamot. Starting top left and going clockwise: Black Swallowtail, Silver-spotted Skipper, American Lady, and E. Tiger Swallowtail.

20180727_015732

Giant Swallowtail and Hummingbird Moth have one other thing in common. They are both species that almost always elicit verbal responses and comments when seen: “look at that” or “what’s that” or “wow.”

They are currently entertaining in Eliza Howell Park, hosted by Wild Bergamot.

July Blooms and Butterflies: Part 2

In Part 1, I noted some of the most common wildflowers found in the park in mid-July. They will be there for the July 14 nature walk and the next time I go after that.

Butterflies, on the other hand, do not stay in one place. I am never entirely sure what I will see, though a few are seen almost every visit. Here are some often present in EHP in mid-July.

The first three can be considered large, as butterflies go.

20180712_155736

Monarch

 

20180712_155150

E. Black Swallowtail

 

20180712_131737

E. Tiger Swallowtail

The next 6 are smaller, but not among the many very small butterflies. I characterize them as mid-size.

20180713_111401

Clouded Sulfur   Photo by Margaret Weber

 

20180712_155340

Red Admiral

 

20180604_121940

Little Wood-satyr

 

20180624_174700

Cabbage White

 

20180624_182146

Silver-spotted Skipper

 

20180712_155001

Common Wood-nymph

The last two pictured here are small. There are almost always additional small butterflies flittering around that I am not able to identify.

20180712_154300

Banded Hairstreak

 

20180713_111431

Crescent       Photo by Margaret Weber

It is very difficult to tell the different between Pearl Crescent and Northern Crescent. They are very similar. I think the one in the photo might be a Northern Crescent, but Pearl Crescent is more common in southern Michigan and more likely to be seen in EHP in the summer.

I have always considered a day of seeing 6 or more different species of butterfly a very good butterfly day. On sunny days in July in Eliza Howell, there is often a very good butterfly day.