C is for Comma

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A short pause is in order today to just soak in the beauty of the Comma, butterfly, that is.  One of the earlier butterfly species to grace the skies in our area each summer many of the earlier arrivals we observed actually overwintered as adults. Some finding refuge from the winters freeze deep in crevices of a trees bark.

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Some we found warming themselves collecting minerals from the moist soil on the forest floor.

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Whereas others were often found feeding on the new growth of the trees and shrubs.

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Yes, C is for Comma.

Juniper Hairstreak

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One of the most interesting butterflies found in our area is the beautiful and fancy in a non-fancy sort of way Juniper Hairstreak.  Widely distributed across the United States this butterfly is often seen in old fields, bluffs, barrens, juniper and pinyon-juniper woodlands, and cedar breaks. This one was photographed feeding on biscuit root along the base of a cliff that had several areas of Juniper growing. The male will sit all day upon the ends of juniper branches to attract a female.

Seeking Solutions: E-Butterfly

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Yes it’s winter and for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere butterflies are few and far between this time of year. However summer will arrive soon enough and the skies will  once again graced with these butterflies large and small.

Butterflies are vital pollinators and their populations strongly affected by climate change. Research funding to study how climate change amongst other things effects butterflies is in short supply so researchers have created an online platform called E-Butterfly which allow individuals to log their butterfly sightings and photos into a database much like the platform E-Bird used by many in the birding community.

A recent interview with entomologist Kathleen Prudic the co-director of E-Butterfly was published in the Conversation. The data entered into E-Butterfly is used for numerous research projects including butterfly conservation and much like the data used on E-Bird can be used to visualize the migration of several butterfly species. E-Butterfly also contains informative articles any butterfly enthusiast would find interesting to read. It is a great way for us all to get involved in conservation and another addition to the ever expanding role of citizen science in conservation research.

Browsing the site is a fine way to spend a minute or two on a dreary winter day.

And for more information on Citizen Science visit Citizen Science. org

While crossing the stream bed

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The summer sun has melted the snow up high reducing the flow in this streamed to no more than a trickle. Even so, this stream bed was a place where butterflies met perhaps to get a drink of water or maybe a taste of the minerals on the rocks lining the stream bed.

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While crossing the steam we took a long break to watch the butterflies do their thing. From Fritillaries, to Admirals and Skippers the stream bed was the place to be that day for butterflies and humans alike.

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The Yellow-headed butterfly

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We see this butterfly at least once per summer and usually on the same week in mid-July. I am having a difficult time correctly identifying the species. Looks a bit like a form of white or a form of a sulphur. It is beautiful regardless the specific species and we always enjoy finding and observing one on our mid-summer hikes.

On green grass

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A Western White Butterfly taking a bit of a rest on the green green grasses growing in a field nearby. Spring has sure done it’s job this year as the grasses have grown up tall. It’s only a matter of time and the mid-summer heat before they will seed and turn towards brown. It all happened in what seems a blink of an eye this year and it sometimes feels hard to drink it all in.

On Butterfly Hill.

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Butterfly hill is a place not so far away where an old mine seepage trickles water from the side of the hill, and perhaps minerals, which seems to attract butterflies from near and far.

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We have seen many varieties of butterflies there and we present a smattering, or perhaps better said, a sampling, of a few of these beautiful insects.

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A nice spot to just sit and watch things happen for both butterfly and humans.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Fritillary Friday

Is there a word you run across that no matter how many times you say it it just is a struggle to get past your brain and out your lips?

Well for me that word is Fritillary.

A beautiful species of butterflies, I confess,  but I sure would rather look at them than have to address one directly… Hello Mr. or Mrs. Fritillary….that would not go well.

With that in mind here are some photos of these beautiful butterflies (notice how I did not say Fritillary) that we encountered this past summer.

Happy Fritillary Friday and have a wonderful weekend.