Sunday, August 30, 2009

Butterflies on the Sand

Most of the time when you think of butterfly habitat you envision open fields full of blooming wild flowers or ornate flower gardens. These are good places to look for butterflies but another place to look, that most people do not think of, is the shore line of lakes, rivers and streams. Like most living things butterflies need to ingest minerals and one way to do this is to suck up the dissolved minerals in wet sand. In this first pic a male cabbage white is partaking of minerals from the sand. We can tell that it is a male because it has a single spot on the fore wing, females have two spots.
The eastern tailed-blue can be identified by the small "hair-like" tail that protrudes from the hind wing. The only other member of the blue family that has a tail is the western tailed-blue. To distinguish between the eastern and western varieties of tailed-blue look for the orange spots near the tail on the hind wing. If the blue has two orange spots then it is an eastern tailed-blue if it only has a single spot then it is a western tailed-blue. While we do not see many western-tailed blue in the southeastern part of Minnesota their range does overlap in the northern part of the state and into Canada.
The viceroy butterfly is a monarch look a like, however it is easy to distinguish the difference once you know what you are looking for. First off the viceroy is typically smaller then the monarch, with a 2.5 to 3.25 inch wingspan for the viceroy and a 3.5 to 4.5 inch wingspan for the monarch. This can be difficult to judge, however, unless you are lucky enough to see them both together. The easy way to tell the difference is to look at the hind wing. On the viceroy there is a line running across the hind wing which is not present in the monarch. All of these butterflies where photographed at Afton State Park in September of 2008.

10 comments:

SandyCarlson said...

These are so very beautiful. Works of art.

Randy Emmitt said...

Nice captures. Not sure if you knew but only male butterflies imbibe in the minerals found in the sand.

Ecobirder said...

Actually puddling, which is what the behavior is called, is much more common in male butterflies but it is not exclusive to males.
If you would like to read more about puddling and other butterfly behavior check out this site \\www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/components/dg6711d.html from the University of Minnesota.

Honey Mommy said...

What beautiful butterfly photos!

Next time we are near a river or lake I will definitely keep my eyes peeled!

Jama said...

Beautifully captured!

Chris said...

Simply beautiful!

jay said...

Those are great butterfly photos! We have that same Cabbage White butterfly over here in England. They decimated my nasturtiums this year, as they do every year! LOL!

♥RocĂ­o♥ said...

So beautiful I love butterflies!

Jientje said...

Very very pretty, I love butterflies too. Who doesn't? Absolutely stunning macro's!

lisaschaos said...

Of course I love these butterflies! But I also love your Kestrel above!!