Sunday, August 29, 2010

Butterfly Nerds

I just got a photo/text message from a friend out in CA- it was a picture of a Queen butterfly she saw the other day. Some back-and-forth texting ensued (or if you're REALLY into butterflies you would've considered it sexting?) that made me realize spending a summer at Hershey Gardens' Butterfly House (last year) turned me into kind of a butterfly nerd.

I'll now do my best to start the process of turning you into a butterfly nerd, too.

I bet you know what that is.
It's a Monarch!
If you already knew that you're pretty awesome!
This one is a male. You can tell by the two black spots in the center of the lower wings. The females have thicker black veins in their wings and don't have those two black dots.

I bet you know what THIS butterfly is, too- even though you may not know you know! It's the Monarch Impostor: The Viceroy! Almost everyone's heard of "that butterfly that tries to look like a Monarch when it knows it isn't." They are right! That's what it does!

How do you tell the difference? Take a look at this butterfly and the Monarch above. Even though their wings are in slightly different positions, you can see the defining mark. A hint: Look at the lower wings.

If you didn't find it yourself, it's ok, you're still awesome!
The bottom wings of the Viceroy have a black line that goes through the middle of the lower wings across the veins. That black line is how you tell the difference! You can see it on both sides of the wing.

Sometimes a butterfly's wings look completely different on the top side (the side that faces the sky when they fly) versus the bottom! A perfect example is below.

Do you know what this guy is?
It looks quite similar to the Monarch, but this butterfly is actually called a Queen. It has no dark black veins running through the upper wings like the Monarch has. It's also more brownish in color. When a Queen opens its wings, the top sides of the wings are just the rusty color with black along the outer edges- the veins are not prominent at all, as seen in this photo by Korall:

For more neat things about Monarchs, have a look at this site:

This is the Monarch Caterpeeeeeeeeellar! It's yellow and white and black and stripey. Plus you'll know it's a Monarch Baby if you found it on Milkweed! A lot of people confuse it with the Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpeeeellar. I've done paintings of both now, so I consider myself the expert on all things caterpeellar. Ok not really, but doing the paintings in addition to time at the butterfly house was quite informative!

 I admit... I find it ridiculously fun to say "caterpeeeellar."



Doris Sturm said...

You're in a silly mood today, Sam :-) Thanks for the information - I did not know all that!

When I lived in California the place where I lived had a nickname called "Monarch Bay" because we had so many Monarch butterflies there. The caterpillars used to eat up all my passion vine leaves and I actually had to collect some of them and relocate them (no, I did not kill them!) where they could not munch up all of my vine...

I enjoyed that lesson and I still want to go to see the butterfly exhibit in Callaway Gardens.

Have you guys decided what to do about the house? My question would be how did the home get so much mold? Is that something that can be prevented because if you buy it you will have to keep it up...just a thought!

Jessica said...

Cool beans, I'm glad you posted this! I never got a reply back when I asked you how to tell the difference. :)

I actually have more pics and another video of the Queen, if you want me to send 'em your way. :)

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