While I was shooting the butterfly, a humming bird almost bumped my nose with its beak - I don't know who was more surprised by that! Eastern Tigers have a wingspan of over four inches, and they are also Virginia's official state insect.
I moved on around the wetland area and immediately saw a tiny flutter near my boot tops - Virginia's smallest butterfly, a Least Skipper ( Anclyoxypha numitor) was resting on a plant stem.
The tiny wings glow like bright orange sparkles in sunlight and this one even opened its wings to reveal the top side of those wings - a sight that I had never seen before!
On a nearby leaf of bittersweet nightshade, my camera found an old friend - a Tater Bug (Leptinotarsa juncta) also known as a False Potato Beetle. Its handsome colors make it very photogenic.
Just above the Nighshade on a leaf of the taller Jewelweed , a Variable Dancer (Agria fummipennis) paused long enough for me to get a quick shot. It had a rich purple color in the filtered sunlight.
Moving on across the wetland, I soon spotted my newest favorite butterfly - a Giant Swallowtail (Papilo cresphotes). I really get excited when I see one of those - the wingspan can be as much as 5 1/2 inches. It's easy to see why it is one of the largest butterflies in North America. Until Monday, I hadn't gotten a very good look at those yellow underwings.
Earlier I had seen its rich chocolate brown upper wings and as it fluttered on the swamp milkweed flowers, I could get glimpses of each side all in one lively blur. I could even see the yellow "eye" on the tip of its tail and could hear the soft flap of its huge wings.
As I watched, another Giant joined the first, then another, and another - four in all! What an aerial show!
I eventually put my camera aside and just enjoyed the moment. A humming bird - perhaps the one that had almost collided with me - flew through the twirling butterflies, scattering them back to the flowers. I opened my camera again to capture the latest addition to the scene - a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilo troilus).
Butterflies love Swamp Milkweed and so do tiny Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle larvae. While standing very close to a leaf, I saw one of those dear little creatures crawling slowly along a leaf and a stem. Slow crawlers help make good photos. Is that a shy smile that I see?
Just before storm clouds gathered enough to begin a sprinkle of rain and send me home to my husband Lou and the welcome dinner he usually has prepared for me, I reflected on the joyous hour I had spent with the Wildwood visitors and dwellers, and I knew that I could relive it in my mind with the help of my photographs. How privileged I felt...