Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flower Hill Farm BUTTERFLIES OF 2011 ~ Favorite Crescents

Now for some more of the lovely Brushfooted Butterflies of the Nymphalidae family.  
The wing patterns of the Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos, vary significantly as you will see in the three featured here. This butterfly was from a late May 2011 brood and is feasting on what I believe to be a Robin's Plantain Erigeron pulchellus

It is hard to believe that the third instar caterpillars of the last broods from September are wintering over out in the fields and gardens somewhere near their host native aster plants. I hope they are safe from the many juncos, goldfinches and robins who are constantly combing the snowless areas of ground. Though since the female butterfly deposits up to 700 eggs in groupings of 20 -300 on aster leaves, there may well be an abundance of surviving dormant caterpillars to spare a few tasty bites for the birds. Birds must survive the winter somehow too.

Male Pearl Crescent ~ Note Flat Tip of Abdomen
Another Late May Pearl Crescent Minus One Antenna

Another late May male, I am guessing,  but the outlines on all the wings are so much darker.  It might just be that I took this photo in a less sunny spot.  

These butterflies will nectar on most any flower. Above is a female enjoying marjoram flowers. Bright mid July sun washes out the more vivid colors of this  Pearl Crescent .

Female Pearl Crescent ~ Note Pointed Tip of Abdomen 

This female Pearl Crescent was captured feeding on a Rudbeckia in August of 2011. 

I find these butterflies even more difficult to identify than the varied Fritillaries. Sometimes just seeing the negative space can help us see forms. Each of these three different Pearl Crescents is on a different flower and I have them placed so as to show the varying patterns on the wings. By draining the color away in the top photos we can more easily see the patterns.

It is easiest to identify the Pearl Crescent by seeing her underwings. Note the pearly white crescent on the butterfly below. 

Flower Hill Farm 2010 ~ Note ~ Pearly Crescent on Underwing

In 2010 the middle garden/meadow was filled with hundreds of these tiny 1 - 1 1/2 inch wing span Pearl Crescents. It was magical walking amongst the multitude of sunlit wings flitting about the large stand of gooseneck.

Pearl Crescent 2009 in the spring garden

I found this image from the gardens of 2009. The variety of the wing patterns is so confusing but beautiful. I cannot believe anyone could call this small butterfly dull. 

We are still living out the mild winter of 2012 and though there are no beautiful butterflies flying about, there are plenty of birds that gather each morning atop Michael's Black Cherry to await the rising sun. The colors of the goldfinches are beginning to turn yellow again. 
One solitary bluebird seems to hangout with nearly fifty finches. I hope they help keep him warm at night.

The golden sun is climbing farther to the north each day along Walnut Hill. March is nearly here and spring will not be far for this corner of New England. 

It is time to visit Gail for Wildflower Wednesday! 
Katarina is offering the word Color this week. 

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