Category Archives: Butterfly

Zebra Swallowtail

Here is a gallery of one of my favorite butterflies that call our area home the zebra swallowtail. From Wikipedia…
Protographium marcellus, the zebra swallowtail, (formerly listed under genera Eurytides, Iphiclides, Graphium and Papilio by some authorities) is a swallowtail butterfly native to the eastern United States and southeast Canada. Its distinctive wing shape and long tails make it easy to identify, and its black-and-white-striped pattern is reminiscent of a zebra. The butterflies are closely associated with pawpaws, and are rarely found far from these trees. The green or black caterpillars feed on the leaves of various pawpaw species, while the adults feed on flower nectar and minerals from damp soil.

The zebra swallowtail has a wingspan of 6.4 to 10.4 cm (2.5 to 4.1 in).[3] The triangular wings are white to greenish white with black longitudinal stripes. A pair of swordlike tails extend from the hindwings. The inner margin of the hindwing has two blue spots on the corner and a red spot near the body. A red stripe runs along the middle of the ventral hindwing. P. marcellus has two seasonal forms, one occurring in the spring and the other in the summer. Spring forms are smaller, more white, and have short, black tails with white tips. Summer forms are larger, have broader black stripes, and longer, black tails with white edges.

The zebra swallowtail can be seen from late March to August in the northern portion of its range and from February to December in the southern portion. It has two broods in the north and three to four in the south,with the first brood being the most numerous
Males will patrol near host plants in search of females, flying swiftly and directly.They usually fly 0.5 to 1.8 meters (2 to 6 ft) above the ground. Females will fly slowly when searching for suitable host plants.Both males and females avidly visit flowers, including species from the families Apocynaceae, Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Lythraceae, Polemoniaceae, and Rosaceae. Males participate in a behavior known as puddling, in which individuals congregate on sand, gravel, or moist soil to obtain salts and amino acids.[7] These nutrients aid the male in reproduction. Other food sources include rotting fruit and urine.

Since the caterpillars are cannibalistic, females lay their eggs singly on pawpaw leaves or on the tree trunks. The round egg is pale green, later turning orange brown. Young caterpillars are black with lighter colored transverse stripes. Older larvae have two color forms. The more common form is green with yellow and white transverse stripes; the rarer form is black and banded with white and orange. In both forms, between the swollen thorax and the abdomen, there is a yellow, black, and bluish-white band. The larva has a yellow, foul-smelling, forked gland called an osmeterium which it will use to deter predators, especially spiders and ants. The chrysalis is either green or brown, and is more compact compared to chrysalids in the genus Papilio. Three small horns project from the head and thorax. The chrysalis hibernates in areas of its range with cold winters.

Sorry for the long post but I do find the info from Wikipedia very useful there is just no way I could collect and write that much info I just will stick with the photographic part of it.

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Butterfly Survey

It’s been my best year yet for butterfly photography and attending the butterfly survey at Big Oaks NWR was a definite highlight..
Joseph R. Robb made the experience not only a educational adventure but also guided us thru one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems in the midwest. My son and I cant thank him and all the others enough who volunteered their time to make it such a wonderful experience.
We counted 46 different species and a rough total of 1590 butterflies what a great day !!
Can’t wait till next year !!!

Waterfalls and Wildflowers

crooked falls 3 2017virgin bells 1 2017

Madison Indiana is known far and wide as a Architectural gem with all of the Historic homes and one of the most unique Main Streets in the Midwest. Visitors come from all over to enjoy the many festivals that our community has to offer as well. Even though Madison has these attractions the one that we have never seemed to take advantage of is the incredible natural beauty that we have to offer.

Clifty Falls State Park, Big Oaks NWR, Splinter Ridge FWA and The Chelsea Flattwoods are just a few of the many places to enjoy the natural beauty of Southern Indiana. We also have one of the most incredible wildflower blooms in the Midwest not only at Clifty and the other public areas but drive any rural road during the spring and summer months and you will be able to view great displays of flowers that dot the countryside.

Our county also boasts more than 30 waterfalls like the one pictured above that when conditions are right flow thru and over the many gorges that line the Ohio River Valley.

For right now there are just too many places and facts to share with you about this great area we call home but sufficed to say Madison isn’t just about man made structures but maybe more importantly about what nature has to offer.

Luna Moth | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildflowers aren’t they only thing I get to photograph, here is an example of a wonderful Luna Moth that I came across on a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I found this wonderful subject laying on a boulder getting ready to take flight, and for what seemed like an eternity this beautiful flying flower stayed in this one position and let me capture some really incredible images of it !!

I was really blessed to find such a beautiful and majestic creature, most specimens of moths that I come across seemed to be severely battered, but this beauty was in all it’s glory and I was so thankful for such an experience. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look, hope you enjoy the image !!

 

 

luna moth great smoky mountain national park 2014

 

More Butterflies

Just continuing on with my backyard theme, here are few more Butterflies I have been able to photograph in my butterfly garden this year. Still no Monarchs but the ones I have been shooting have been really beautiful and a blast to work with.

These are three different species, each one is beautiful in its own right and each can be really tough to photograph. It seems the smaller the species the faster and more complicated it becomes lol !!

And so far it’s been a great year but I am still not finding any of my favorite Butterflies and that’s The Monarch, reports are that the population is down about 60% and I think I believe hat number, they have all but been invisible to me this year.  Hopefully I will still be able to photograph a few before the season ends here in Madison Indiana and they continue on their migration south into Mexico.

Hope you enjoy my images and thanks for stopping by and taking a look at my blog !!

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                          sulphor 1 2012Cabbage Sulphur

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                         bfly 2 2013

Pearl Crescent

blue 1 2013

Eastern Tailed Blue

Butterflies from the BackYard

Ok… so now I am moving on from the flowers in my back yard to the reason I planted all these blooming plants, and that’s so I could hopefully do a better job in photographing butterflies this year.

Never had much luck with butterfly photography but with the cool wet summer here in Madison Indiana, which led to a profusion of blooming plants, I was able to really get out and try my hand with this very challenging aspect of macro photography.

Thankfully I have come across two really great places to photograph these little flying flowers. One is this great field not far from my home that has been planted with an incredible bounty of wildflowers by the State Highway Department and the other is even closer my backyard !! I will post pics of the wildflower field in later posts and thought I would just post pics of the butterflies in my yard for now.

The thing which has really brought the butterflies into my yard this year has been the great bloom my Butterfly Bushes have undergone.  I have never seen them bloom like this before and they have attracted everything to them Hummingbirds,Bees,Moths and many other nectar loving insects have used these bushes as a food trough  along with other insects looking for that free dinner that gets too close to its webs or claws!!

Here are a few shots of the butterfly that I have photographed the most lately and that’s the Tiger Swallowtail, it’s seems like these gentle giants have had a very good season in terms of survival and numbers and they have become my number subject so far.

I hope you enjoy the images and if you happen to be near a butterfly bush don’t be surprised if you don’t come across a few of these wonderful creatures. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look !!

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                            butter 1 2013

butterfly 2 2013

butter 1 2013

More Monarchs and Skippers

Here is one  more from last summer, I shot all these little guys along a major highway in Southern Indiana just outside Madison. It was in one of the highway right a ways and they replanted it all in blooming wildflowers and milkweed for all the butterflies that were migrating thru the area.

The field was teaming with butterflies and moths, finding a subject wasn’t the problem it was just trying to get one to sit still for bit that made it problematic !!

I was after the Monarch Butterfly that happened to be migrating thru this portion of the state  and there were many in the field.  I was able to pick and choose which ones I wanted to set up on. There were also many other moths that were making their way thru the field  and I was able to photograph them as well.

The photographs I am sharing came from that field and I can’t wait till late next summer to get back out there and try my hand at photographing these beautiful little gems. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the images !!

 

                                                                                                                                                                           monarch butterfly 1 2012

                                                                                                                                                                               monarch butterfly 2 2012

                                         skipper 1 2012