A little urban butterfly diversity

Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis ©Devin Floyd

By now all of you know that it has been a wonderful year for butterflies. Well, right now we are witnessing the grand finale! Have you noticed that our state butterfly, the eastern tiger swallowtail, is nearly absent here as autumn approaches?… and that a fast and flittering boldly-patterned butterfly known as the ‘buckeye’ is visiting your flowergardens? The seasons are changing, and southbound monarchs trace our long and straight highway corridors, the concrete lines heading south….Route 29 has a rush hour going on at about 30 feet off the ground!!!
What have you seen in your yard, or around town? Sometimes less common species make their presence with a quick passing, or maybe their colors or behavior camouflage them from your view. Have a look around, and take care to look in a variety of places…the micro habitats in your yards…sunny spots, shady havens, in the grass, in the tree canopy, on gravel or soil. With a little patience, you will be rewarded with a wonderful variety of colors, patterns, and sizes!

Species observed in September, in our tiny yard along Hinton Avenue, in Charlottesville, VA:
  • hackberry butterfly
  • giant swallowtail
  • great spangled fritillary
  • American lady
  • variegated fritillary
  • tiger swallowtail
  • monarch
  • cabbage white
  • buckeye
  • silver spotted skipper
  • black swallowtail
  • common checkered-skipper
  • sachem skipper
  • duskywing skipper sp.
  • red-banded hairstreak
  • question mark
  • orange sulphur

Earlier in the year we were visited by these additional species:

  • zebra swallowtail
  • spicebush swallowtail

*It may be worth noting that two years ago in late summer, we were flooded with gulf fritillaries. We have not seen them since (and yes, we do still maintain a healthy stand of their host plant, passion flower):

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