Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Rare Visitor

As I walked through the south meadow one sunny October afternoon, I noticed
that the air was filled with many white and yellow flutters - the Cabbage Whites
and Orange Sulphurs were enjoying asters and other flowers.
Although I didn't snap any photos of them because I already had 
many pictures of those common residents of Wildwood,
I loved watching them frolic in the warm sunshine.
The Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae) have a wingspan of 32 - 48 millimeters.

Their caterpillars are a real garden nuisance because they like to eat cabbage!

Orange Sulphurs (Colias eurytheme) are about the same size as the Cabbage Whites. Their wingspan is 30-50 millimeters. I think that they look more yellow than orange when I see them flying.

However, I found one resting with its wings open on the pavement on Park Road earlier this summer 
and saw that it was indeed very orange looking.

As I continued to watch the butterflies, I noticed that there was a much smaller
yellow one twirling around. It looked like a "baby" butterfly,
but I knew that those critters emerge from their chrysalises as fully grown adults.
As the tiny creature crossed the bike path, I opened my camera 
to be ready to get a shot. I was delighted to see that it paused on a small aster flower
long enough for me to to snap a couple of times.

I slowly inched a bit closer and snapped again. I could see that it looked similar to the Orange Sulphurs, 
but it had an elongated forewing that gave it a "stretched  out" look.

I managed to get a few more photos before it flew over the meadow and out of sight.

I later learned that it was a Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) -
an appropriate name, I thought.
It is the smallest of all the Sulphurs and usually does not fly in our
valley and ridge area.
It has a wingspan of only 20-32 millimeters.
No wonder it looked so small as it flew with the larger species.

Once again I felt very fortunate to have my camera ready when a lovely visitor came to Wildwood!

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