Monday, February 28, 2011

Searching for the beautiful Falcate Orangetip Butterfly

What? Butterflies in February? Yes, in Southeast Texas and especially right here in The Woodlands area, we have a species that exists in flight only in late February and March. By April, the newly hatched caterpillars will transform into a Chrysalis and wait until next February to fly.
Falcate Orangetip

A small butterfly but very obvious in the forest as it moves from one flowering Spring Cress plant to another, this species can easily be found wherever there is Spring Cress.

This is the exquisitely colored male. The female is almost totally white with the dots on the wings. Photographing this butterfly is not easy. It is very skittish and is frightened off by small movements. It does not like to land near humans but when eating, it can be less observing.

The plant is very small and so is the butterfly. This is what it requires to photograph this beauty.
Spring Cress (Cardamine bulbosa) is an interesting flowering plant. It is one of the first wild flowers in the Spring to expose its blooms to the forest. As a butterfly plant, it hosts the eggs of the Falcate on its flower stems instead of the leaves. It's tiny eggs are orange and also intricate. Where is the egg? You will need to click on this photo to see how small it is. Hatching will occur any day now. After hatching, all the flowers will be stripped off by the caterpillar. Even though this plant will produce by seed, it survives the butterfly by replicating at the roots. No leaves are touched by the little caterpillars.    
Our search took us to Sam Houston National Forest this day. Finding the bug was not easy. I made five sightings myself. This was not the only butterfly in the forest however.
Pearl Crescnt

A surprise was the spotting of the Pearl Butterfly. This one had a damaged wing but he was able to get around just the same.

Henry's Elfin
This butterfly (Henry's Elfin) was expected at this time of the year but difficult to spot, landed high in the branches of the trees and on this cloudy day was very difficult to photograph. Fortunately one of our group managed to find the right spot and had the equipment plus skill to take this photograph.

My thanks to Don Dubois and Hugh Wedgeworth, fellow members of B.E.S.T., for allowing me to share their photos with you.

1 comment:

Celestial Elf said...

Great Post
and Beautiful Photographs :D
thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
Bright Blessings
elf ~