I took my camera for a walk to Hickory Grove this evening. The weather could not have been nicer — clear, low 70’s, light breeze. And I had the place to myself — at least as far as people were concerned. There were tons of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, moths …
This is a Viceroy. It looks very much like a Monarch but isn’t very closely related. It is considered a “mimic,” a tasty butterfly that looks like a butterfly that tastes lousy. Birds get confused and leave them both alone.
This is a Monarch — well, actually, this is two Monarchs … They’re on milkweed, a plant named for the white liquid that oozes out when the stem is broken. The caterpillars feed on milkweed, which is what gives the butterflies the lousy taste that makes birds avoid them.
The Monarch is larger than the Viceroy, but the easiest way to tell them apart is to look for that black line that cuts across the hindwing on the Viceroy.
When I first walked up, the Monarchs fluttered off, still connected. They circled around and landed back on the same plant. The male resumed feeding while the female … They were still there when I left.
I walked on a ways and came upon another milkweed that was providing dinner for two other creatures.
The thing on the right is a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. I don’t know what the red and black job is. The moth hovered and backed up and flitted around exactly the way a hummingbird does. Here’s another shot.
I also spotted three impressive dragonflies. I’ve never tried identifying dragonflies, but I might start. These are pretty cool.
I didn’t have my binoculars, and birds don’t generally let me stick my camera two inches away from them, but I saw some cool ones — Indigo Bunting, Great Blue Heron, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird, Great-crested Flycatcher …