Friday, March 2, 2012

Flower Hill Farm BUTTERFLIES OF 2011 ~ Favorite Viceroy

The Viceroy Limenitis archippus, is a bright orange butterfly with black veins, cleverly mimicking the bad tasting and tummy aching (for the birds) milkweed butterflies. It is classified as a Mullerian mimic of the Monarch butterfly.

Therefore upon first sighting the Viceroy, an observer may believe it to be a Monarch butterfly. There are many differences, however . . .  such as size and hue intensity . . .  but the easiest way to identify the Viceroy, is to note the thick black vein drawn horizontally through the hind wings. The monarch, as illustrated above, does not have this trait. Also, notice the drops of white. . . the color of milkweed sap . . .  are quite different in numbers and shapes.

The Viceroy may not be very tasty either but that does not keep the birds from trying to find out the hard way.

When spotting these beautiful butterflies further out in the gardens and fields, it is harder to determine the differences. One sure way to know a monarch from a viceroy . . . even faraway . . .  is in the unique and graceful soaring flight of the monarch. 

Viceroy butterfly on wild carrot Flower Hill Farm 2009

Viceroy on sedum Flower Hill Farm 2010

Viceroy butterflies may have up to three broods during May through September. Females lay beautifully intricate pale green eggs . . . that mimic plant galls . . . on the leaves of willows, poplars and even apple and cherry trees. The third instar caterpillar of the last brood will fastidiously fashion a leaf, of its preferred host plant, into a safely fastened silk-lined shelter and wait out the fall, winter and early spring months here in the northeast. Mother nature has protected these little critters by adorning them in the most unappealing garments . . . resembling bird poop. Come spring, when sap begins to stir and rise up through veins of crusty trees . . .  reaching for extremities . . . tiny leaves begin unfurling, awaking sleeping caterpillars, who stretch and begin anew on their journey towards becoming rather dull, dark-brown and white chrysalises. The first boldly painted butterflies may emerge before many plants are flowering and find nourishment where they can . . .  in pools of water, decaying flesh, excrement and even by shrewdly sipping aphid honeydew. 

The sun sails a bit further north each longer winter day.

Robins fill the crabapples and reap the benefits of dried fruit.

 Marching towards spring is always unpredictable here in the northeast. Soft snow began falling on the hard frozen ground Wednesday afternoon continuing throughout Thursday . . .  the first day of March.

 The soft bluish landscapes above were taken just at dusk on Thursday. 
It is still very much winter here and all the overwintering caterpillars and chrysalises continue to dream while the farmers and gardeners long for spring. 
Luckily we have thousands of butterfly photos to edit and other gardens to visit. 
Friday is for flying away to Sweden to visit Katarina's Roses and Stuff.
Clicking into Katarina's and other wondrous gardens does help soften the hard cold fact of winter's continued chill.


FlowerLady said...

Oh Carol ~ Your photography is so stunning. I am in awe of your talent as a photographer. I loved the info about this Viceroy butterfly and your snow scenes are beautiful.

Have a lovely weekend ~ FlowerLady

Randy Emmitt said...

You got snow yesterday, it reached 80 here yesterday. Great captures of the Viceroy and Monarch. I really liked the sedium ones, used to see butterflies on sedium, but now rarely see them on it.

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

Look at all your snow! We didn't get a flake this winter and now spring is upon us. I saw the first butterflies in the garden last week. Reminding me of the importance of having late winter / early spring blooms in the garden. Thanks for sharing you lovely images.

Country Gal said...

Awesome photos ! Yup our Robins are back as are all our migrating brids now . now snow left warming up anf grass is getting greener ! Smells, feels and sounds like spring here today ! Cant wait to get out in my gardens and photograph more butterfly's , bugs and flowers again. Have a wonderful day !

Angela said...

Great pictures. I love butterflies and look forward to seeing them every year in my garden. Thanks so much for sharing.

Anja said...

Kära Carol!

You are getting better and better photographer. The sharpness of the images is gorgeous! You have even managed to capture so well the butterflies in the flowers. Your images impresses and touches!!!/
Kram, Anja

Tammie Lee said...

I know so little about butterflies and insects and how and where they winter. it was interesting reading about them wintering in a leaf. Where is this leaf? Fallen to the earth?
your photos are lovely and i so wanted to smell the flowers!
lovely weekend to you~

Hanne Bente said...

Incredibly beautiful pictures you show.
I love butterflies - they are the symbol of: a long and happy life.
Wishing you a good weekend.
Hugs Hanne Bente

Randi said...

Kära Carol, your shots are amazing! I don´t know, how you manage to keep focus on these moving butterflies. The March weather CAN be cruel here too, but I try to forget
Kram Randi

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Carol,
I enjoyed your lovely photos and information about viceroy butterflies. I am a monarch waystation, and see a number of them each season. I need to look with a closer eye to see if there are any viceroys taking shelter here, too.

I have not been blogging as much lately, but the main reason I don't hit each blog I like very often is because there are just too many of them. I read your statement about having health problems. I hope things are getting better for you. I have a few things going on, too. One causes me to be dizzy when I bend over. It should pass with time, as it has in the past. I may need to be careful when I get back into gardening.

sweetbay said...

You're right, there really is a difference in the flight patterns of the butterflies. I finally learnedly to tell the two apart by looking for the black hindwing bar a couple years back. Beautiful pictures!

Gillian Olson said...

Your butterfly pictures are wonderful, thanks for explaining the Viceroy traits. The skies, Robins and snow scenes are also so beautiful.

easygardener said...

Lovely pictures I am always intrigued by insects that mimic others that are toxic to predators.
It looks like you are still gripped by winter - luckily we are having it slightly warmer.

Eliza @ Appalachian Feet said...

The juxtaposition of butterflies and snow is really enchanting. We haven't had any snow but it is getting down to the 20's tonight. Still, the winter has been so warm I've been seeing some moths recently, and today I saw my first carpenter bee.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Catching up with your butterflies. I have to be better at identifying this butterfly from monarchs...I will check my photos to see what I might spy!! Love the blue dusk of winter! I get a blue dawn many days...

Katarina said...

I don't know how you do it, bu you do! Over and over again you manage to take the most fabulous pictures!

-March is a month of contradictions here as well. One day it's spring and the next winter is back .. But at least the birds are nesting... : D

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