Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wild child

I recall receiving a greeting card at my high school graduation, with the introduction, "For someone outstanding in their field," only to open it and find a sketch of a small person standing neck deep in grass under a wide sky. How I chuckled.
But, I find myself out, standing in my field, a lot these days--as the summer brings on the next wave of wildlife--the moths and butterflies.


While not too many insects can tolerate the toxic and sticky latex of the milkweed, caterpillars of the Milkweed Tussock moth have made a meal of it. These social eaters move from leaf to leaf as a group, leaving nothing but the skeletonized remains.


In days, they'll begin to resemble these tufted black and orange caterpillars of last summer.





Such a wild child, slipping into the unnoticed life of a drab adult--a silvery brown moth I've never seen.







So many others become more striking.

Common Buckeye


Little Wood-Satyr


Spicebush Swallowtail


Great Spangled Fritillary


Silver-Spotted Skipper


I never realized, years ago, how much truth was hidden behind the humor in that verse.
How, almost every day, it would be there, that my greatest satisfaction would be found.
Out, standing in my field.



Great Spangled Fritillary

Click photos to enlarge

See more Skywatch here.

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65 comments:

pink dogwood said...

your pictures are such a treat - thanks for sharing.

What are the purple flowers called? I find something similar to them all along the highways here in maryland and I am in awe of their beauty.

bobbie said...

I love your posts. Always a little lesson in nature along with the most photographs. thank you.

NCmountainwoman said...

Great shots. You always seem to capture what the rest of us may overlook. Thanks.

BTW: You really ARE outstanding in your field.

Beverly said...

Dang, girl...where do you GET this stuff:

"I never realized, years ago, how much truth was hidden behind the humor in that verse.
How, almost every day, it would be there, that my greatest satisfaction would be found.
Out, standing in my field."

Sheeshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Yer awesome!!! ...Lovely pics, too!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Superb photos, as always. I very much enjoyed the 'from down below' shot of the Milkweed Tussock caterpillars. An unusual Sky Watch, to be sure; just great!

cestoady said...

I am blown away by the beauty, charm and wit of this photo - essay post --- OUTSTANDING !!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Great photos Nina.

fishing guy said...

Nina: I wish I could say you had a great view of the Sky but those catterpillars are still eating the leaves. You have some wonderful butterfly captures.

juliana rw said...

gorgeous shots

Mine in here Thanks

Picturing of Life said...

love ur nature and sky... great butterflies shot

Hope you can Visit me also Thanks

Ellyn said...

I love butterflies. I am willing to look at pictures of them over sky pictures any day of the week.
I did find your sky through the partly eaten leaf to be a unique perspective. Thanks for sharing.

imac said...

Just found your sky, very clever work there. Great nature photos.

Old Wom Tigley said...

WOW.... I really ned to call back here to take all these in so I will be back... :O)

Julie said...

Nina, the very first image of the leaf eaten by the caterpillars is a wonderful way to expose the sky.

Teresa said...

Those are some spectacular shots! Great job!

Torsdag said...

unusual for SWF, and I like the results, butterflys for the sky

Texas Travelers said...

Loved everything about this post: sky, flowers, caterpillars, butterflies, etc.

Great photographs. I always find something enjoyable here.

Great SWF.

Our Sky Watch is Here.
Come visit the beach,
Troy and Martha

PS: Check out our butterflies one post down from SWF.

esnorway said...

nice pics have good weekend

marcia@joyismygoal said...

oh how interesting and creative to think of taking it

CrazyCath said...

Oh my! What fantastic photographs. Stunning - each and every one. You are not only out, standing in your field, you truly are outstanding, in your field.
(It's all about punctuation you know!)

SandyCarlson said...

Stunning, all. Thanks.

Kathiesbirds said...

Everyone seems to have butterflies on the brain this week! I've never seen a post like this though. Those leaf skeletons tell it all. There's nothing common about that Buckeye and I would say you are OUTSTANDING in the blogosphere! (and I love what you capture in the field!) Happy skywatch! This is an excellent post!

Lori said...

What great shots! Those little purple flowers are so pretty.

A unique and captivating sky watch!

nina said...

Pink dogwood--there are 2 purple flowers in these pictures. The ones that the butterflies are on are Teasel. The picture of the field shows thistle, Canada thistle, I believe--small but thistly, noetheless!

Rambling Woods said...

Thank you Nina..I was able to get a name for a butterfly that I have seen. Beautiful photos...

Brenda said...

I love the angles and the way you've framed these photos. Excellent!

Raven said...

What a wonderful collection of photos. The caterpiller/leaf shots are wonderful in a creepy sort of way. I mean they are genuinely beautiful despite the fact that they are full of caterpillars (not one of my favorite critters) chomping the plant up. Great post.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Very nice post... beautifully composed!

D Herrod said...

Very cool. Are those moths and not butterflies?

April said...

A lovely and beautiful post! I like the first image a lot.

nina said...

d herrod--the caterpillars will become moths, but all the adults pictured are butterflies!

shutterhappyjenn said...

Wow... great shots on how a butterfly came to be! I love your pictures!

Hope you can hop by my SWF photos in these blogs:
Jenn Was Here
Shutter Happenings

Thanks! Happy Friday!

Fish Whisperer said...

Great shots. You captured what we all tend to overlook.
Cheers

Ces said...

How did you capture these butterlies! Amazing photograph of the leaves. SWF is really a treat today. This is gorgeous.

Suzanne said...

Your photos are amazing I really like the 2nd last one especially it has some magic.

Angie said...

Your photos, especially those of the butterflies, are just breathtaking.Thank you for sharing them with us on SW. BTW, did you know that the original name for a butterfly was flutterby? Makes more sense when you think about it, doesn't it!

pts said...

Nina ,all are amazing!

Anne-Berit said...

Amazing photos from you.Thanks for stopping by my site!

travelnorms said...

excellent pictures! all are beautiful, thanks for sharing and for the visit too..happy weeekend..

ellen b. said...

That common buckeye is so cool. You really do get out in your fields and I enjoy seeing your photos. have a great weekend.

scienceguy288 said...

Great photos. I have never seen so many catipillars on one plant. The butterfly pictures are beautifully done as well.

pink dogwood said...

Nina - I googled the flowers that I find along the highways here, and apparetly they are called Chicory - http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/cichoriuminty.html

so I guess they are not the one in your pictures, but they are also beautiful.

thanks,

magiceye said...

that looks lovely!

have posted a picture of a partial solar eclipse that we had in our mumbai skies today!

dguzman said...

Nina, this is a stunning post--your photographs are amazing. I need to email you and find out what camera you use.

I wish I were out,standing in my field right now... *sigh*

You made my day! Thanks!

dlyn said...

I did a series on flying things in my garden on Wednesday if you want to check it out. I love all of these - even the horrifying [to a gardener] sight of something munching through leaves. Happy Skywatch Friday!

AphotoAday said...

What a great selection of photos -- nice work! Enjoyed seeing them.

Larry D said...

Great photos! Happy SWF!

Razor Family Farms said...

Gorgeous! I love your photographs! What camera do you use? Those are extraordinary!

I am so glad to have visited your site today! I needed to slow down and look at the butterflies!

Blessings!
Lacy

RazorFamilyFarms.com

Kelly said...

You have some amazing photos! Very nicely taken!

JeFf & NoVa said...

those are gorgeous.. i love your photo...


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juliana said...

amazing shots!love the contrast between the leaf with caterpillars and the blue sky. and those butterflies are gorgeous.

Dee Bee said...

Amazing shots! I've always wanted to take macro shots of butterflies but they seem to be scared of me... LOL.

starnitesky said...

Superb photos of caterpillars and butterflies.

Dave Coulter said...

Excellent, Nina!

Nita said...

What a nice shots! Mine is up as well. Hope to see you there! Have a great weekend!

Cheers,
http://www.nitascorner.info
http://www.nitasrandomthoughts.info
http://www.downeastartscenter.org
http://www.thomastraveltales.com
http://www.thomasweblinks.us

Catherine said...

All very beautiful sky~watch captures! I can see why you can find satisfaction standing out in your field! :D
Happy weekend!
Happy sky~watching!! :)
Cat

Wren said...

Nina, your photos are incredible. I kept staring at that first one, feeling like it was sucking me into it.

Christy said...

Very cool skywatch photo. I love all those butterflies and moths. I actually have an appreciation for moths as well since I have been researching butterflies. They really do go together.

Alex said...

Such wonderful pictures. Visiting your site is like a pleasant cup of coffee on the front porch.

Mary said...

Swallowtails are elegant and butterflies are all beautiful, but, that Common Buckeye is a stand-out. You nailed that one, Nina.

Great post :o)

coolgirlsar said...

What wonderful photos. I love them all. Happy Sky Watch Friday.

RuthieJ said...

61 comments? Wow!
Nina, that was a great post and your pictures were fabulous. I want to see a Spicebush Swallowtail! Will you trade it for some purple coneflowers? ;-)

Susan Gets Native said...

Thank you! You helped me ID a bunch of little cats on my milkweed! I was checking for Monarchs, and found a posse of little white caterpillars...you just saved me time in the field guide. I have only seen the tussock cats when they are bigger and hairier.

nina said...

Susan--
I came across them in exactly the same way, and finding only a solitary monarch caterpillar.
Like you, I hadn't seen them before they become so recognizably tufted--but when you add "eats milkweed" to "feeds in groups" there aren't too many options.
Just to be sure, I took the photo and waited a few days to post it--by then, I really could tell what they were on their way to becoming.

Q said...

Dear Nina,
I would stand with you out in your field any day! Wonderful butterflies. The Spicebush is one of my favorites.
Sherry