Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Awaiting Spring

    I’m definitely awaiting spring!  Particularly following a beautiful weekend of early ‘April like’ weather.  I’m ready to grab my camera, rush outside and explore nature.  I’m reminded of several butterfly photos I took last year.  Actually, I’ve been chasing butterflies for over 25 years!
      I remember the fun last year on the Outer Banks.  I spotted and photographed a number of them on a nature trail.   One was the monarch.  They were everywhere.  They were attracted to a large clump of flowering bushes.  There was also another type of butterfly there.  I recognized it as one I saw several years ago along the Gulf coast of Florida.  I was more than intrigued.  “Why on earth is it here in North Carolina,” I wondered?  I had never seen so many large butterflies feeding or fluttering over blossoms in my life.  
 Back in the motel room I conducted a butterfly identification search.  According to Wikipedia, I discovered this beautiful butterfly was a Gulf fritillary.  It is also known as the passion butterfly.  The ones I’ve found so far have a brilliant orange color.  Months later, I conducted more research and determined they are sometimes called the passion butterfly, simply because they are attracted to the passion flower - a flower that grows on a vine.

 In North Carolina, Gulf fritillaries are fairly common along the southeastern coast in fall.  They are also found from Argentina, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina; sometimes further north.  They’re also found on the United States west coast along the San Francisco Bay area.

 Further down the trail I spotted a butterfly with strange shaped wings.  “This butterfly must have gotten its wing caught and torn,” I thought.  But, after chasing it, I got a closer look.  Both wings appeared to be unusual.  I stood on my tiptoes.  I managed to snap one photo just before it flew away.

 I hurried my pace.  I rounded a curve and saw what I thought it was a dried leaf.  I stared.  I noticed a similarity to the shape of the butterfly I had just photographed.  It made a slight movement.  “Hummm”, I mumbled to myself, “another peculiar butterfly.  Wonder if this is a butterfly in disguise?” 

 Again, I did more research.  I typed ‘butterfly leaf’ as my subject.  Finally, there it was.  There were photos of both the top and underneath side of a butterfly that was an exact replica of the one I found on the trail.  Sure enough, the underneath side of its wings created a perfect disguise.  It was my first sighting of an Eastern comma butterfly.

 I hope spring soon arrives, bringing with it spring like weather.  My camera is ready.  The batteries are charged!