Sunday, April 23, 2017

Flutterbys in the News

A male Falcate Orange Tip from this spring
A nice little article on a nice little butterfly that we see here in early spring: Falcate orange tip butterflies: here today and gone tomorrow
A male falcate orangetip butterfly?!

What an uninspiring name for such a beauty.

Jonathan Snyder sent these photos of the little butterfly that he took at Horn Point and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach.

I had never seen an orangetip before and after learning more, I know why.

This butterfly is truly ephemeral--here today and gone tomorrow—with no future generations until the next year.
A female from a few years ago
One of the things I never really thought about with butterflies until I started photographing them how they make it through winters. Many survive winters as eggs or chrysalises, starting over, and having several generations through the summer and fall. A few, like the Falcate Orange Tip, only produce a single generation each year, and only appear as adults for a short while.

“The falcate orangetip is one of the first butterflies to fly in the spring,” Snyder wrote. “It appears early and is gone, generally by the end of April.

The butterflies also are very small, Snyder added, and you might confuse them with the common cabbage butterfly until you see them up close.

The female doesn’t even have the orange tips on her wings but you might recognize both sexes by their falcate, or hooked-shaped, wing tips and their marbled undersides, thus their descriptive but uninspired name.
. . .
Orangetips are usually found in colonies, more in the southern part of the city where their host plants, various plants in the mustard family, grow.

Teacher Maurice Cullen who oversees the butterfly garden at Virginia Beach Middle school, said he found a colony this spring of orangetips in Northwest River Park in Chesapeake that had been there for around 40 years.

Cullen also has seen them in other areas of Chesapeake, as well as along Blackwater Road and other country roads in Virginia Beach.

He said that the countryside still supports roadside areas where wild mustard plants grow.
We have a few mustard type weeds around to keep them going. I think they're pretty much gone for the year already; I haven't seen one in at least a week.

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