Nature Notes

Vol. VIII September, 1930 No. 10

Bits of the Rainbow in flight w/common blue butterfly silver spot butterfly

Those who wander out along the trail to Sluiskin Falls to see the display of late summer flowers there will surely notice especially on warm, still days, the many brown and yellow butterflies flitting about on the Purple Aster, the Fireweed and the Ragwort.

Curiously enough the three most common butterflies which, we find now are grouped together in the same family--the Nymphalidae or Brush Footed Butterflies. They are so called because their front legs are so small as to be useless for walking. Probably the most attractive of the three is the Mountain Silver Spot (Argynnis). The bright markings on the underside of its wings accounts for its common name.

The Fritillary (Brenthis) is very similar in its coloring of warm browns and yellows but it does not possess the silver spots as does the Argynnis with which it can be easily confused as it makes the rounds of the flower fields. Then there is the American Tortoise-Shell (Vanessa). It is easily recognized by the dark chocolate, almost black, color of the under wings which becomes easily visible as the butterfly folds them up upon alighting.

There are many others, of course. The small, delicately formed blue species which is also very numerous at this time is the Common Blue (Lycoena). As it flies about over the meadows its bright blue coloration attracts the eye of the passer-by. But should it alight upon some flower and fold its wings we are able to see that the attractive blue color is not characteristic of the underwings. There it is white, or nearly so.

While the adults of these butterflies may sip the nectar from a wide variety of flowers, the larvae or caterpillars feed typically on but one or a few plants. For example, the Tortoise-shell has a peculiar liking for nettle leaves; the Silver-Spot and the Fritillary feed at night on the leaves of the violet.

Victor Scheffer, Ranger-Naturalist

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