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Posts tagged “butterflies

Butterfly Visit

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating
portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly lands on the top of the frame of the portrait.

A Hackberry Emperor butterfly explores the frame of one of my prints at an outdoor event; I got so many good photos but this one, where you can see both the butterfly’s shadow on the mat and reflection in the glass was extra special. It was what the butterfly did after this that was most interesting though.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly investigates Sophie’s forehead.

I’ve had animals react to my portraits before but never butterflies, and I was captivated by this butterfly’s activities on Saturday morning as I organized my display at Tails for Trails. Butterflies aren’t unexpected in places like trails in the woods and I often see them landing on all sorts of unusual things like cars and human structures, so landing on the top edge of the frame of one of my paintings on display isn’t all that unusual. I was all over it with my special lens combination intended for extreme close-ups since I could get close to this butterfly without it thinking I was a loon and flying off, and I got a number of nice photos of it on the frame. I learned when I got home and identified it with the detail in my photos that this activity was typical for a male, hanging out atop a tall object to watch for girl butterflies, and resting upside down on tree trunks.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly lands on a “branch” in the painting

He began walking down the glass of the portrait and exploring the faces of Sophie and Ellie in the portrait, or so it seemed. He walked over both of their faces and then thoroughly explored Sophie’s nose and mouth; it was feeling a little Silence of the Lambs-y when he was sitting over Sophie’s mouth, but then again it was just a print of a painting. But when he attempted to perch on the branches of the Japanese barberry in the painting and landed on the leaves at the bottom, which would be a natural camouflage in life, I thought my skills had reached new heights of affirmation.

The art was actually a giclée print of the portrait of Sophie and Ellie, so I’ll have to tell the folks who made the print how convincing it is.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly lands on the leaves.

But most telling for me was the fact that I knew both Sophie and Ellie have passed, Sophie just within the past year. In the portrait you see the two on their porch, but their yard actually adjoins a local trail, and in the photos the two were “being very good”, intently watching the people, but not barking. Butterflies are thought to be the spirits of departed souls joining the mortals for a visit, and thi sbeing a benefit dog walk there were plenty of people and dogs to observe.

Below is an animated gif showing all the most interesting images of the butterfly in action. Slide shows have been a little bit of a problem on some devices, and creating an animated gif is actually quicker for me than setting up a slide show, but it means you don’t have any control over the images since it just keeps displaying over and over. It should be visible on all devices, though.

portrait of dogs with butterfly investigating

The butterfly investigates Sophie’s forehead.

He spent the most time on that painting, but he also visited another—trying to get to the flowers, perhaps?

butterfly on painting

The butterfly also found another painting he liked

And read a little more about the Hackberry Emperor butterfly.

I also posted this story on The Creative Cat.


Munching Monarchs

caterpillar-1

Monarch caterpillars on milkweed leaves.

Caterpillars, that is. I visited Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights to work on a painting of the scenery, and in my first trip around the upper trails spotted a monarch caterpillar on a partially-chewed milkweed leaf. I had actually never seen one, though I’ve read all about their habits and appetite for only the best milkweed leaves.

caterpillar-2

I’d never seen them up close before!

Each time I passed the caterpillar, I photographed it with a different lens, also marking its progress along the edge of the leaf it was chewing. It had apparently found a tender spot in the leaf and was methodically chewing along the edge in an arc, back and forth, as far as its head could stretch without moving the rest of its body.

caterpillar-3

Hello!

Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed for all stages of life. Females lay one egg at a time on the underside of a large leathery leaf near the top of the plant. As the caterpillars mature the eat their own shells, then start in on the leaf they were born on; as they grow they shed their skin, and often eat that as well. They’ll move around the plant chewing on leaves through four sheddings or “instars”, and after the fifth shedding they’ll attach themselves upside down under a leave and build their chrysalis. This becomes transparent over a period of two weeks when the adult emerges. This one is probably in its last stage before the big change.

caterpillar-4

Making a nice, neat edge.

For more information on monarch butterflies and butterflies in general, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America at http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/.

Earlier this summer I photographed a Great Spangled Fritillary on milkweed from along the Panhandle Trail near Oakdale, and i I’ve got several more photos of butterflies, mostly from my back yard as the visit the native plants.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Migrating Monarchs

monarch on leaf
monarch on leaf

Monarch butterfly on mulberry leaf.

It is thought that butterflies represent the souls of loved ones who’ve departed.

This monarch was resting on a cool leaf as it traveled through the neighborhood. It only stopped to rest in several areas, though my yard is still fresh with phlox and echinacea, two of any butterfly’s favorite foods. Likely the monarch is looking for milkweed plants to lay its eggs as it travels south. (Last September I featured a few photos of Munching Monarchs, monarch caterpillars munching away on milkweed leaves, one of my favorite sets of photos.)

Butterflies and birds are all in migration now, and the ones you see at your feeders and in your yard are likely not the ones you saw all summer. The same species of birds move farther south from their summer ranges, from Canada to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., for instance, or from Pennsylvania to Florida, making it seem as if the same birds visit your feeders all year long.

And now is an especially important time to keep feeders and birdbaths filled for birds and butterflies who need to make a quick stop for nourishment before they move on. I have a few decorative additions to my garden and birdbaths for butterflies that hold a small amount of water in a shallow cup, a small luncheon plate on a tree stump that holds a small amount of water and I also keep a flat rock in the middle of a birdbath, all safe and convenient landing spots for butterflies to stop and have a sip.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Munching Monarchs, 2009

caterpillar-1

Monarch caterpillars on milkweed leaves.

Caterpillars, that is. I visited Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights to work on a painting of the scenery, and in my first trip around the upper trails spotted a monarch caterpillar on a partially-chewed milkweed leaf. I had actually never seen one, though I’ve read all about their habits and appetite for only the best milkweed leaves.

caterpillar-2

I’d never seen them up close before!

Each time I passed the caterpillar, I photographed it with a different lens, also marking its progress along the edge of the leaf it was chewing. It had apparently found a tender spot in the leaf and was methodically chewing along the edge in an arc, back and forth, as far as its head could stretch without moving the rest of its body.

caterpillar-3

Hello!

Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed for all stages of life. Females lay one egg at a time on the underside of a large leathery leaf near the top of the plant. As the caterpillars mature the eat their own shells, then start in on the leaf they were born on; as they grow they shed their skin, and often eat that as well. They’ll move around the plant chewing on leaves through four sheddings or “instars”, and after the fifth shedding they’ll attach themselves upside down under a leave and build their chrysalis. This becomes transparent over a period of two weeks when the adult emerges. This one is probably in its last stage before the big change.

caterpillar-4

Making a nice, neat edge.

For more information on monarch butterflies and butterflies in general, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America at http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/.

Earlier this summer I photographed a Great Spangled Fritillary on milkweed from along the Panhandle Trail near Oakdale, and in my online photo gallery I’ve got several more photos of butterflies, mostly from my back yard as the visit the native plants.


Migrating Monarchs, 2010

monarch on leaf
monarch on leaf

Monarch butterfly on mulberry leaf.

This monarch was resting on a cool leaf as it traveled through the neighborhood. It only stopped to rest in several areas, though my yard is still fresh with phlox and echinacea, two of any butterfly’s favorite foods. Likely the monarch is looking for milkweed plants to lay its eggs as it travels south. (Last September I featured a few photos of Munching Monarchs, monarch caterpillars munching away on milkweed leaves, one of my favorite sets of photos.)

Butterflies and birds are all in migration now, and the ones you see at your feeders and in your yard are likely not the ones you saw all summer. The same species of birds move farther south from their summer ranges, from Canada to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., for instance, or from Pennsylvania to Florida, making it seem as if the same birds visit your feeders all year long.

And now is an especially important time to keep feeders and birdbaths filled for birds and butterflies who need to make a quick stop for nourishment before they move on. I have a few decorative additions to my garden and birdbaths for butterflies that hold a small amount of water in a shallow cup, a small luncheon plate on a tree stump that holds a small amount of water and I also keep a flat rock in the middle of a birdbath, all safe and convenient landing spots for butterflies to stop and have a sip.