Friday, August 29, 2014

Monarch Butterflies Start Migration

In Springbrook Nature Center's south prairie the Rough Blazing Star is in full bloom and the Monarch Butterflies are busy drinking nectar as they start their long migration to Mexico. 

I took these pictures on Tuesday with Monarch butterflies all around me, seeming to have added to their numbers this summer after reports of serious population decline last spring.
 I'm sure they are still in serious decline, but it is great to see them in numbers after seeing so few recently. 

This is a male, as told by the black "spots" on the hind wings.

Although there were plenty of flowers to go around, the butterflies often nectared together on a single plant, with 3 or 4 close together, as can be seen in the picture below.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Butterflies in Summer

 Lots of butterflies around the flowers at Springbrook Nature Center and gardens this summer.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are nearly the largest and there have been lots of them this year.

They are slow fliers when they are getting nectar from flowers, and a pleasure to see.  Their caterpillars feed on cherry leaves, so a Cherry tree will attract even more of them.
 This American Lady butterfly is feeding on Joe Pye Weed flowers.  These butterflies probably do not survive our winters in Minnesota as hibernating adults, but fly north in the spring and will have a couple of generations in this area before the cold of late fall ends this year's cycle. 

These butterflies are very fast flying and some years will be seen in great numbers and other years very few seen.
 The Question Mark butterfly is named after the silver white mark on the hind wing that looks a little like a question mark.  These butterflies fly very fast and rarely stop for anything.  Finding one that stopped to get some nectar was a gift.

Below is the Red Admiral Butterfly, another one that is sometimes seen in great numbers.  This one is nectaring on Purple Cone Flower, and flies very fast from one flower to another, spending all day on the flowers.