Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chocolate and Orange Go Well Together

Last week, I visited a property that is owned by a member of the Isabella Conservation District Board of Directors.  This property is enrolled in a conservation program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and is open to the public as part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Hunting Access Program (HAP).  I went out to this property searching for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars - we found 50 of them at this property over the course of three weeks.  While I did not find many Monarchs on this day (only 3 caterpillars), the patches of flowers were instead being visited by dozens of Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterflies (Aglais milberti).  The caterpillars of the Milbert's Tortoiseshell feed only on nettles - there are plenty of them in this field.

Asters, Goldenrod, and Milkweed under cumulus and cirrus clouds

The underside of the Milbert's Tortoiseshell wings are a rich chocolate brown.

The chocolate brown underside of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell
When it opens its wings, it exposes broad bands of orange.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell - opening its wings to expose orange submarginal bands

These butterflies were mostly keeping their wings closed, but I was able to find one that wasd sunning itself with its wings spread wide.  A close look shows a yellow appears at the front edge of the orange band, and border of blue spots can be found on the edge of its wings.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell - note the yellow and orange band, and blue along the margin of the wings.

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