Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Color Changes

You might expect this article to have photos of trees with leaves that have changed colors.
Well you are in for a surprise!
While roaming the South Meadow with my camera recently, I saw a Buckeye butterfly gliding along the bike path and over into the grass. I had seen the familiar and beautiful "eye" spots on top of its wings as it flew. 

When it landed on a blade of grass,
the butterfly's weight caused the blade to bend and the under wings were revealed.
The forewings had eye spots and and the hind ones were a solid color but not the usual tan.

Instead they looked like a muted, rosy pink. I thought that the afternoon sunlight had caused them to be that color. I shared the photos with my friend and butterfly expert Clyde Kessler, and he told me that I had photos of a fall generation of Buckeye called the "rosa" form. When I did some research online, I found that the rosy color on the wings is caused when the eggs hatch and the butterfly grows up during fall days that are shorter and have less sunlight. Those days and nights are also colder. This combination causes the lovely rosy color.
Welcome to Wildwood, Rosy!

Wouldn't it be great if these colorful critters could stay with us throughout the year?
Winter gets too cold for buckeyes so they will migrate south to the Carolinas and on as far as Florida.
See you next spring, Bucky
(Be sure to read the article "2010: The Year of the Common Buckeye" written by Clyde on 10-15-10)

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