Recent Butterflies

by Carl Strang

Earlier I mentioned that one winner in the winter survival sweepstakes appears to have been the spring azure. Another butterfly that apparently benefits from mild winters is the red admiral, and I have been seeing enough of these already at Mayslake Forest Preserve to regard them as another beneficiary in 2012.

Sometimes the red admiral can be seen at a flower or on territory, but often all you get is a flash of orange on an otherwise dark wing as the medium-sized butterfly flits past.

It’s too soon to tell with other butterflies. Last week I got the opportunity to photograph both genders of the wild indigo dusky wing, but they are the only two individuals I have seen to date.

The female of this species is somewhat brighter and lighter.

These skippers indeed often hang around Mayslake’s wild indigo plants, but their population reportedly has increased in recent decades as their larval diet has broadened to include other legumes.

The darker male wild indigo dusky wing is different enough that one easily could believe it belongs to a different species.

It seems I have been counting a few more black swallowtails than usual, as well, but again I need to see more before I will think they had greater than usual survivorship.

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