Monday, May 14, 2012

Where Do Butterflies Go?

The trickster Buckeye!  The eyespots are (it is said) an attempt to steer a predator away from the body of the butterfly and lead the hungry attacker to choose the tip of a wing as opposed to the body of the butterfly.  But I've often wondered how the butterfly could fly with a big chomp out of one wing! 

These lovely creatures arrived early this year.  Or so it seems.  Often they don't materialize in West Virginia until early summer. 

They get nectar from well-known plants such as Queen Anne's lace, sunflowers, milkweeds, ironweed and clovers.  This time, the butterflies were gathered en masse on our multiplier onions going to seed. Probably "tanking up" before the rain.    These were both flitting from one allium to the next, landing only briefly to grab a sample.  I'm not sure what this other  lovely
creature is. I believe it's a Red Admiral.  They are very quick fliers and they don't spend much time resting.  If indeed it is an Admiral, they generally prefer fermenting fruit, dung, and carrion over flowers.  But sometimes desperate measures are needed so they gather nectar from thistles, milkweed, dogbane, red clover, ox-eye daisy, Queen Anne's lace and lilac.  And obviously....onion.

 Butterflies don't fly in the rain. Rain is potentially lethal for these delicate creatures.  Sitting here looking out the window, it's a frog-strangler in the making,  and it occurred to me to wonder what happens to butterflies when it rains....Just Google it!  There are many entries to interest the naturalist.  One in particular caught my eye:
  written by Professor Michael Raupp, Entomologist at the University of Maryland. 

So, butterflies are (we hope) taking refuge under the broad umbrella-like leaves we have this year--larger than normal!  Be safe little fragile creatures.  We'll look for you after the storm!


  1. Elora -- the photos are exceptional. I especially like the leaf rimmed with raindrops. We sure have had to rain too! -- barbara

  2. Thank you so much, Barbara! BTW, I sent a dear friend to your blog so enjoy your inviting topics and guidance through Appalachia. Thanks for all your wonderful work. You've had so many posts lately which I've wanted to comment on, but found myself in a bit of a busy spiral as our Association potluck drew near. That done, now, I'm back to enjoying your offerings. Thank you for all you do!


  3. That was so interesting about butterflies and rain, Elora. Your photos are so beautiful, especially the leaves edged in silver raindrops! Like Barbara, I really love that one.

  4. That does look like a red admiral. It's very common here and generally it feeds on nectar though my book says it does sometimes feed on rotting apples. Interestingly it is one of a few butterflies that fly at night.