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  • Merri-Lee M.

August Butterflies

August seems to have been the month for butterflies this year! After a few much-needed rains, caterpillars and butterflies finally made an appearance. They were busily taking nectar from Milkweed and other flowers along the roadside near MacGregor Provincial Park a few weeks ago on a sunny morning.


The White Admiral is a strikingly beautiful butterfly with its dark wings, white wing-stripes, and spots of rust and blue.

The underside is even more colourful.

White Admirals overwinter as caterpillars, rolled up in the leaves of Birch, Willow, Poplar, and a few other hardwood trees. In the spring, they leave their leaf-beds, and feed on tree leaves. The butterflies in these photos look fairly "new", and had not likely been out of their cream-coloured chrysalises for more than a day or two.


The Red-spotted Purple is very similar to the White Admiral.


There are many different Fritillaries. I believe that this one is the Great Spangled Fritillary, but the wear on the wings makes it difficult to tell.


There were far more Viceroys than Monarchs on this particular day. The Viceroy is much smaller than the Monarch, and has a row of white spots on the forewing that is lacking on the Monarch. There is also a black line through the hindwing of the Viceroy.



Although these 2 butterflies are very similar in appearance, their caterpillars and chrysalises are quite different. The Viceroy caterpillar is mottled brown or olive, and the chrysalis is also a brown/cream colour. Viceroy caterpillars feed on Willow, Poplar, Aspen, and some fruit tree leaves.

Monarch caterpillars are brightly striped, and feed only on plants in the Milkweed family. The Monarch chrysalis is a lovely bright green case adorned with gold spots.


Meanwhile, at home in the garden, there have been a few Painted Lady butterflies (mostly earlier in August and late July). They are attracted to the Butterfly Bush and Zinnias.


And my Parsley, Carrots, and Dill have been hosts to many Black Swallowtail Caterpillars this year. Most will overwinter in brown chrysalises attached to a branch or wall, and we will see the butterflies in the early spring on a warm, sunny day --- if the Chickadees don’t eat them!

Black Swallowtail Butterflies are tough to photograph! They tend to be very "flitty" and do not stay in one place for very long. A few years ago, a chrysalis snuck into my sister's home on a live Christmas tree, and hatched in her living room. We kept it alive for about a month with orange slices and houseplant flowers. These photos were taken in January......


At Port Burwell this past weekend, I was thrilled to see a Buckeye resting in the sand. Never seen one of these little beauties before:

Apparently Buckeyes cannot overwinter here, and they migrate to the southern States in September and October. Perhaps this butterfly was resting on the shore of Lake Erie before taking off on its long journey south.


With all of the concerns about our pollinating insects, it has been wonderful to have seen a variety of butterflies this season.

And it has been especially rewarding to have been able to "fledge" at least 30 Monarchs from the Red Prairie Milkweed and Common Milkweed around our house! But that is a story for another post......

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