Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Painted Lady

Today was Labor Day and I had the day off of work, though I didn't feel all that great. The previous evening I contracted a sore throat of the worst kind, but no other symptoms so I still tried to be out and about and doing things. My wife and I had hiked extensively for the past few days, visiting nearly 4 different parks in the metro area and today was kind of day to ourselves. I forgot to mention that she was also sick as of the previous day but was further along than I and wanted nothing more than to stay inside and recover. Anyway, I found myself hiking along the paved path on the north side starting at 73rd Avenue. I quickly noticed not one but two butterflies on a plant I know well; White Snakeroot. But here's the interesting part, I can't say I've EVER seen any species of butterfly on this plant. It is a native, but with it's small white flowers it generally doesn't attract much attention from pollinators, especially butterflies in my experience. But it's worth mentioning that this particular year was a "boom" year for Painted Lady Butterflies, and they are being seen by the hundreds and sometimes thousands in various parts of Minnesota this summer. Anyway, when I spotted two Painted Lady's and one Red Admiral on the same plant I just had to take some photos. Only a few hundred feet later I spotted yet more Painted Lady's again on White Snakeroot. And boy were they in perfect sunlight for photos! I think these might be the best shots I've ever gotten of this butterfly species. After sharing these on facebook, I had people with waaay more experience than I tell me that they had also seen them on White Snakeroot AND that it was the first time they'd seen that too! Since the Palmer Lake Park area doesn't support a wide variety of flowering native plants, my guess is that the Snakeroot was the best option these butterflies had for nectar. A bit later I bumped into a friend of mine and we hike together for a little bit. We spotted a Viceroy Butterfly as well but it was too far off the trail for a good photo.

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