Lepidoptera is a term coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1735. The term is derived from greek origins meaning "Scaled Wing". The photo above (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidoptera) shows a scanning electron microscopy view of the scales on a butterfly wing at 50X through 5000X. The scales on the wings of butterflies have many functions: to attract mates, camoflage, mimicry, thermoregulation, insulation and pheromone production (wikipedia). (A small area on male butterfly wings called 'stigma' glands is what actually produces pheremones if I'm not mistaken). So when I go out birding, if I get a chance to get a good look at a butterfly, I take it! With the right optics, you can really get amazing views of the details, colours, patterns that butterflies provide. Some butterflies will allow close looks where you can almost grab them, and others will flutter away and keep a safe distance never to be seen again. I recall trying to find Hackberry Emporer butterflies at Point Pelee one summer, and while searching for one, one landed on me! I had another land on the dash of my car!
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better" - Albert Einstein.
|Even with a cheap 55-250mm lens, you can actually see scale detail on butterflies if you get a good exposure. Do you know what butterfly this is?|
My latest nature walks have focused on our local endowment of about 40-80 species of butterflies that can be found in Essex County (there are 174,250 species worldwide in the order of Lepidoptera). Right now (July) is prime time to go out and get a look at these fluttery beasts*!
|Red Admiral Butterfly - Dorsal and Ventral Composite|
|Red Admiral Butterfly. It took several exposures and adjustments on ISO, Aperture and shutter speed to get this shot! Once in a while a butterfly will afford you some time to capture it. This is the exception, not the norm though.|
|Hickory Hairstreak. This rarity is pretty easily found at Brunet Park in Lasalle. This one only gave me 3 seconds of viewing.|
The "hairstreaks" of a hairstreak butterfly is an example of self mimicry. A hungry bird wanting to eat this butterfly might be fooled into biting the wrong end of this butterfly - its non-vital hindwing, giving the butterfly one more chance to fly away and see another day.
|Red Spotted Purple - A butterfly that mimicks the bad tasting Pipevine Swallowtail. Its really a colour morph of the White Admiral butterfly!|
|Great spangled Fritillary on Purple Milkweed|
My latest birding efforts have been good but nothing outside of what would be expected. I have seen and heard a great number of Great crested Flycatchers this summer at Ojibway, as well as Orioles, Indigo Buntings and Eastern Wood Peewees. One highlight from the third week of June was a group of five fledgling Green Herons at Ojibway (see below).
|Five Green Heron Fledglings at Ojibway Park|
Interested in joining a butterfly count in Essex? Read below for details of the Essex County butterfly count:
The Windsor Butterfly Count is being held Saturday, July 5 (2014). If you would like to attend we are meeting at 9:00 am at the Ojibway Nature Centre. We will then divide up into groups to cover the various parks and natural areas for butterflies.
* "Fluttery Beasts" was a term coined by Ohio Blogger Jim McCormac. I must give him credit for that lexicographically brilliant description of butterflies.