The winner of today’s photography challenge is the state
butterfly: the black swallowtail butterfly.
These butterflies are found throughout most of the eastern United
States, parts of Canada, and south through Mexico and Central America. It is
also the state butterfly for New Jersey and Oklahoma (where it can be seen from
March through October).
On my walk this morning, I was fortunate to see the black
swallowtail butterfly on some of the wildflowers along the shore. I wasn’t able
to get super close to the butterfly—I didn’t want to scare it off, so pictures
don’t do full justice to the beautiful butterfly.
I’m not certain whether I managed to get several pictures of a male or female black swallowtail. The distinguishable area is towards the bottom of the wings–the females have more blue towards the bottom of their wings. Also the males have larger yellow spots than the females do, but since I could’t get closer to it (I didn’t want to scare it off), I can’t say for certainty which sex it is.
These are rather large butterflies, as their wingspan can be between three and a quarter and four and quarter inches (so somewhere between eight and eleven centimeters). Females will lay eggs on the leaves and flowers of host plants (such as carrot, celery, dill to name a few), which then serve as food to the caterpillars. The young hibernate as a chrysalis (pupa) before emerging as an adult.
The adults feed on nectar from flowers, which include milkweed, thistles, and red clover (to name a few). One goal for this summer is going to try to identify this flowering plant. The black swallowtails aren’t the first butterflies I’ve seen on it this summer.
So today’s photographs are of some of the butterflies and moths that I was able to get today on my walk at Boomer Lake.
So the first one I think is the state butterfly of Oklahoma: the black swallowtail butterfly. I think it is almost ironic, that both the state bird and state butterfly are only found in the state during a certain number of months. They’re both migratory species, that spend the spring through fall months in state.
I would have loved to get a closer picture–but it was flying through the trees and bushes a little too fast–and since it had just rained I didn’t want to be trudging through mud either. So hopefully sometime this summer I can get a good picture of one.
Then as I was looking around to see if any of the rabbits were out and about, I noticed this little guy on the honeysuckle. I know its coloring–it was yellow and black, but I wasn’t able to get a closer picture (and by the time I pulled out my phone it flew off). It’s funny that when you google “yellow and black moths in Oklahoma”–over eighty percent of the pictures you get back are of butterflies. So it may take me all summer to try and figure out what species of moth this is.
Then I saw this little light blue butterfly on the other side of the lake. This was about as close as I could get in terms of taking a picture and it having its wings open. I do know that it was a light blue in color, and there might have been a little black as well. I may actually spend a little longer time at the lake one day just trying to get some good butterfly and moth pictures.
So today’s post is going to be rather short, as I am not one hundred percent confident on the identification of the butterfly.
Looking at pictures of butterflies that are found in Oklahoma at this time of the year, it is either the orange sulfur butterfly (also known as the alfalfa butterfly) or the clouded sulfur butterfly. Since I couldn’t get a picture of the butterfly with it’s wings out–I can’t say for certain which one it is.
So that is a goal for the summer–get more pictures of this pretty butterfly, but at the same time get a few pictures of it with it’s wings open so that I can hopefully determine which one it actually is.
The painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly is the winner of today’s photography challenge. This butterfly is also known as the cosmopolitan butterfly since it is almost global in distribution (with the exceptions of Australia and Antarctica).
Another name is also the thistle butterfly, as one of the plants it favors is the the thistle.
I’ll admit that these aren’t the best picture I’ve gotten of a painted lady butterfly, as they always seem to know when I’ve got the camera focused on them and they will then close their wings.
This is another butterfly species that migrates in the fall to warmer climates (mainly northern Mexico) for the winter as it doesn’t hibernate or go dormant like some other butterfly species.
The butterfly feeds off the nectar of flowers from various plants including thistles, clover, and others.
The life cycle of the butterflies is up to about two months (from egg to adult), so butterflies that hatch in the warmer regions during the winter months will be the ones to migrate back to the cooler areas in the spring. The adults towards the end of summer and early fall will start the migration back south, so that they hopefully can avoid any cold temperatures that would be detrimental to the species.
One goal is going to be trying to maybe get a picture of the caterpillar stage of the painted lady.