Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tawny Emperor

In August we took a couple of friends who also enjoy insects and photography to our farm for a photo session. We spent several hours there looking for all manner of insects. In a low-water crossing between two fields we found this beautiful Tawny Emperor (Euptoieta claudia)
drinking water and gleaning minerals from the limestone rocks. She kept her wings spread in the warm sun and remained there for a very long time content to be a butterfly.

These butterflies look very similar to two other orange butterflies that calls Missouri home and that is the Variegated Fritillary and the Hackberry Emperor. In fact when I first spotted this specimen that is what I thought it was the variegated fritillary. Linda Williams, a butterfly expert, was able to give me a correct ID. This was a first for me, and now added to my life list of insects.

They are a beautiful orange with dark markings. Their wingspan is approximately 3 inches, so they aren't a large butterfly but spectacular anyway.

 Males will patrol for females by flying short distances, typically in dry, open areas. After mating, the females will lay her eggs on purslane, moonseed, may apple, violets, and stonecrop. Adults nectar at a wide variety of flowers including common milkweed, swamp milkweed, butterfly weed, peppermint and many others. They will overwinter in the caterpillar stage, they will change from green to brown when they enter into winter diapause. They will become active again when the temperatures warm in the spring and the leaves have begun to appear. They will eat and finish their growth cycle.

It makes me sad to think of winter being just around the corner and all these beautiful butteflies will be gone until spring. I shall have to be content to spend my own hibernation reading, writing and organizing the pictures from this summer.

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