Wednesday, February 4, 2009

South Dakota Butterflies

For those of you who are like me, and really miss seeing butterflies around, here are a few pics that I took while I was at the shorebird workshop that I took back in August (8-8-08) in South Dakota .
This first picture is an example of a least skipper. You can identify the least skipper by the unmarked hind wing as well as the black and white antennae. This looks like it is a male because it has a thin pointed abdomen. Females have a shorter abdomen.
Typically there are two broods of least skippers during the summer. The first brood is from the middle of June to the middle of July. The second is late July to late August. In the picture above the skippers are reproducing. Since this pic was taken in early August their offspring would be a part of the second brood.
The pearl crescent is another common butterfly in the upper Midwest. They are called pearl crescents because of a light patch on their wings which is called a pearl. Unfortunately the butterfly in this pic is at the wrong angle for us to get a look at the pearl.
The clouded sulphur is another common butterfly. Since they over winter in their chrysalis they have a very long season. You can see clouded sulphurs from May up into November.
When I first found this butterfly I was surprised and confused. It looked very much like it was an endangered Karner blue butterfly, which are not typically found as far west as South Dakota.
When I got back home and began to go through the picks I looked it up in one of my butterfly field guides, I should have brought a butterfly field guide with even though it was a birding trip. I discovered that this was actually a Melissa blue butterfly.
The Karner blue is an eastern subspecies of the Melissa blue. The Melissa blue is much more wide spread and not threatened like the Karner blue is. This mostly has to do with the fact that the Karner Caterpillar will only eat parts of the lupine plant where the Melissa blue caterpillars eats various members of the pea family. Since the Karner is dependent on the lupine they are more susceptible to population decrease if there is less lupine around. Melissa blues are found in open fields and prairies from California to southwestern Minnesota.


Helen said...

Those are beautiful. You got some great shots of them. Helen

humanobserver said...

Stunning...I guess these species are not available in India...

Chris said...

Woow...A wonderful serie of pictures. I love the two last ones. This butterfly is wonderful, very colorful...