It's been a cold damp December. Finally the sun came out today for a while and butterflies soon followed. I think I saw only 18 species. Most interesting was this brightly patterned Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak.
I started our yard list on Aug 30 and today picked up butterfly #76, a Sleepy Orange.
Every time the sun pops out, our local Monarch comes to visit.
I arrived at the National Butterfly Center at 9:30 this cool morning. Yesterday's cold front had blown out the cloudy humid weather and left us with beautiful sunshine. Mark and Holly were already there hoping for a repeat performance from yesterday's Tiger Mimic-Queen. Well, it took a while but Mark found in the ditch at about 11. I ran about 50 yards to where he had seen the butterfly only to get a glimpse of it sailing through the trees. We split up and headed north through the woods. After a bit I saw this huge orange and yellow butterfly bouncing rapidly toward me..........and passing about four feet away from my face. So I went running after it but lost it again. We eventually refound it nectaring on some Lantana. What a cool bug.
It took off again and we found it in the ditch and got our final shots before it left for good. There's only a handful of records for this species north of the Border. I don't know if any of those were photographed alive.
Earlier the Blomfild's Beauty put in an appearance. This is one far out butterfly.
Mark and Holly had put the Mexican Silverspot to bed last night. It was sleeping in late at the same spot this morning. And eventually it got up and did a few laps around the Lantana.
It's not everyday one gets to see four members of the Monarch subfamily, Danainae. But we had the Tiger Mimic-Queen, Monarch, Queen and Soldier.
It's been a few weeks since I had seen a Purple-washed Skipper so this one was a surprise after a mostly skipperless yesterday.
So it turned out to be a darn good day. As they say, "I'd rather be lucky than good."
After a lot of cold weather and few butterflies we finally got a couple of warm pre cold front days. So today I checked out the National Butterfly Center where best bugs were a couple of Mexican Silverspots. These are the first I have seen in several years.
This is the only underwing shot I could get.
This winter has seen more Mexican Yellows that the past few.
If Monarchs mate with Queens (so thought my wife Honey) then who mates with the Solders? Well, it's got to be the Painted Ladies!
Otherwise there was nothing too fantastic (at least while I was there). Here's a tattered Band-celled Sister.
Well, I thought there wasn't anything else. But about a half hour after I left Shane Patterson from Iowa found found a big tiger striped heliconian type butterfly. Turns out it was a Tiger Mimic-Queen. Guess I gotta get back out there tomorrow. So instead of a Tiger Mimic-Queen photo, here's a very red Southern Broken-dash I found in our yard the other day.
Our last last front really knocked down the number of butterflies in the RGV. They've been slowly rebounding with the recent warm weather but instead of seeing more than 70 species at the National Butterfly Center as I did a few weeks ago, today I got only 56. With another cold front due tonight I was hoping for some good stuff to blow up from the south. And though it was an interesting day there was nothing fantastic. Best butterfly was an Isabella's Heliconian that refused to stop for a photo. A Julia's Heliconian proved to be much more cooperative.
Here in the RGV I would rate the Zilpa Longtail as the fifth most commonly seen of the long tailed skippers so it's always a treat for me to see one.
The day started with Honey finding this sharp Great Purple Hairstreak in the garden behind the visitor's center.
There's been a few Malachites around for the past few weeks. Today there were at least four of them in the park.
This one refused to move as Honey moved in for the photo. The Topical Leafwing was a bonus.
It's been several weeks since I had seen a Varigated Fritillary.
Here's the Questionmark for the day.
I saw at least eight Giant Whites on this warm prefrontal day.
Here was the best looking of many Dusky-blue Groundstreaks seen today.
Yesterday I made a run over to Santa Ana NWR and was pleased to see the East-Mexican White-Skippers had survived the last cold spell. They have another cold week coming up.