Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nature Notes: I Brake For Butterflies

Common Buckeye

I just love the things I learn when I look around for something to share for Nature Notes. And I love that it nudges me out of the house and into the yard to notice the things we usually miss. Thanks, Michelle, for hosting this awesome meme!

These little butterflies, about two inches across, are swarming my gravel driveway. (Last year the drive hosted red admirals, but I haven't seen a one of those this summer.)

It took a lot of Googling to identify our little visitors, but I finally found it. It's a Common Buckeye, junonia coenia. It's attracted to nectar and mud, which would explain the fascination for the driveway. I have to inch out of here to give them time to escape being run over, and the result is that I am escorted to the road by a lovely cloud of them.

Once on the road I have to go slower than usual to avoid hitting yellow and black swallowtails. They are particularly abundant this year, and they have an unfortunate habit of crossing the roads at windshield height.

In checking Wikipedia for the identity of the black ones, I discovered that they are color variations of the same butterfly. In fact - amazingly enough - this can happen:

It is "A bilateral gynandromorph. The left half is male, while the right half is female."

Isn't that amazing?

*The top photo is mine, but the bottom one is free access on Wikipedia.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.


Jill said...

That is an amazing fact...I had no idea. I love your photo!

Jedediah said...

I've seen phasmids that are gynandromorphs, but never a butterfly.
The Buckeye is gorgeous, I love the bright blue and orange on his wings.

Vilisi said...

"I am escorted to the road by a lovely cloud of them." Beautiful! :)

EG Wow said...

The common buckeye is a gorgeous butterfly. I don't remember ever seeing one before.

That is sooo fascinating about the swallowtails, which are abundant here this year too. AND, I haven't seen any red admirals so far, which is very strange.

Carver said...

I enjoyed this post and interesting that you have the same butterflies that are usually in my yard. I've always found it wild that the same species has the black and yellow form.

Rambling Woods said...

What a pretty butterfly....I haven't seen this one..Thanks for adding this to Nature Notes Vicki...Michelle