09 May, 2011

A Burst of Butterflies

One of the reasons I'm looking forward to summer: I'll get to befriend butterflies again.

Brilliant blue, snapped by my intrepid companion
When we were up at Summer Falls last year, we had little blue butterflies fluttering all round us.  They got very interested in my bag when I went to the bathroom, and when we laid down in the grass to admire the falls, they wandered all over us.  That's a kind of magic, that is.

Come enjoy them with me.

Here's another of the blues, also shot by my intrepid companion:

This would seem to be a fine example of Boisduval's Blue Butterfly, which make eastern Washington pretty.

On the other side of the state (and the other side of summer), we came across a butterfly bonanza in the Olympics.  We'd come up for the geology and the alpine flowers, but the fields full of fluttering butterflies were a nice bonus.

We found this one along the trail:

I am teh suck at butterfly identification, but I'm fairly certain this is a fritillary of some sort.  Maybe genus Boloria, even.  I wouldn't swear to it.  All I really know is it's a butterfly.  It's purty.  That's good enough to be going on with.

And the meadow up by the visitor's center was filled with butterflies, all sizes and colors.

I found this species fascinating, such a delicate, almost transparent white with garnet-and-gray markings:

It's very probably a Clodius Parnassian

This one, I believe, is a relative of those little blues we saw at Summer Falls:

Yes, I know it's brown, not blue.  But if it's what I think it is, it's actually a blue.  It's a female, so it's brown.  Clear?

Didn't think so.  Look, just go read up on Boisduval's Blue Butterfly here at this link, and all should become sort of clearer.  Boisduval's Blues are at least a good starting point for anyone who wants to figure out what the lady above is.

And then, if you're really enterprising, you can head over here and figure out what the delight below is, because I'm stumped.

We chased this swallowtail along the trail a bit, until it found a fine few places to pose:

I think it's an Ainse Swallowtail.  I know it's a swallowtail for certain.  See it's tail?

It's a little hard to see, but those elegant sweeping points are a dead giveaway for a swallowtail.  Unless I'm wrong and it's a dead giveaway for something else.

He reminds me a bit of the ginormous yellow swallowtail my mom and I found in Oak Creek Canyon once, when I was a kid.  It came home with us and lived in my bedroom for a while, hanging around on my curtains, and sometimes with the printed butterflies on my bedspread.  One of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.  These days, I leave them where I found them - photographs are quite enough, thanks.

On our second day in the Olympics, we found quite a lot of little butterflies flitting all around the lake up by the dam.  They were too busy to pose much, but we got a couple of good shots.  I love this one, because it looks like the butterfly's stretching up to say "Oh, hai!" to the bug above:

And then there was the pretty orange one having a nice rest in the road:

It's probably a comma of some description.  Gray Comma? Green Comma? Hoary Comma?  Other people, better people, more detail-oriented people with a passion for taxonomy are welcome to weigh in.  I'm just going to enjoy the fact that there's a butterfly species that shares the name of one of my favorite pieces of punctuation.

And while you're bedazzled by butterflies, you should head over to Chris Carvalho's site and check out his butterfly photographyMichael Klaas, aka @UncoveredEarth, directed me to him when I put out my pathetic plea for help on Twitter.  Gorgeous, utterly gorgeous stuff.

Butterflies are wonderful.  They're like living gems, hanging in the air.  I hope we see quite a lot more this summer, going about their brief and beautiful lives.


Silver Fox said...

Nice pictures! The second orange one I would guess as a frittilary, also, but I've found that when narrowing down between so many species that sometimes a picture of the underside is needed. (And I usually forget to get those!)

Anonymous said...

I love love love these photos! Butterflies can be such tricky little beasties to capture, but you've really managed to get some lovely images of them here.

Jacob said...

Be-yoo-tiful photos there. Have you ever been to the Pacific Science Center? PacSci has a great butterfly exhibit, a climate controlled room with dozens of live butterflies and moths. They make sure to double check every person before you leave to make sure no stragglers are trying to make an escape! I saw an Atlas Moth, which I guess has the largest wingspan of any moth in the world. Pretty impressive stuff.

Karen said...

Butterflies are uber-cool, but where I live we see them so seldom that I've never developed a real interest.

We were visiting the eastern Sierra Nevada a couple of weeks ago and went hiking on a windy day. There were butterflies all over the place, especially ones with reddish-brown/yellow/black checkers on their wings. They were struggling with the wind, and would often alight on the trail for a moment or two to rest. They were so beautiful, and I didn't have a camera with me!