Of Ignorance and Affirmation (2: Affirmation)

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

September 5, 2012

When last we met, I was still slogging confused and uncertain through the mire of my entomological and botanical ignorance.

Shortly thereafter, I turned a corner, literally turned a corner, into a sunny field and, at the nadir of my poor, battered self-esteem, I came across an affirming moment—oh, returned is the warm light of certitude, salved is my poor bruised ego. Confidence flows through my soul as a river of fire.

At last, I know what the heck I’m looking at.

There is a multitude of yellow butterflies along the trail. They are Sulphurs—of which nine are possible in the state—and they all look very much alike.

Ha! But I know this one; I just spent time identifying one up in Huntingdon County.  It is smaller than the rest, and it has two distinctive little black dots near the base of the hind wing underneath.1

Diagnostic dots on Little Sulpur

It is a Little Yellow (Polistes lisa), the first one that I have seen in Perry County.

Little Yellow (Pyrisitia lisa)

Little Yellow (Pyrisitia lisa)

This sighting is followed by a nice fresh Viceroy (Limenitis archippus).2 These are regular here in and around Alder thickets in swampy areas.

Viceroy  (Limenitis archippus)

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

Next up is the Viceroy’s close cousin, a nice bright Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis). These are extremely common this time of year. In fact, the roads are littered with their shattered corpses. This one is sitting in poor light, and I had to concentrate on my steady hold factors to get the shot in focus at 1/125 sec. I shot ten shots; only this one was close to being in focus.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Here is a Hackberry Emperor. Check out those classy white antenna tips.

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

At that same spot, I also found a very newly emerged Meadow Fritillary. I was recently told that warm-weather individuals show a different pattern and coloration on the underside of the wing, and this photo backs that up. In my experience, there is usually far less contrast to the details of the pattern.

Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona)

Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona)

Not a bad day after all.

Ye experts with advanced degrees
Shocked by my misidentities
With charity correct my faults
But keep this foremost in your thoughts.
An autodidact spread too thin
Is apt to bungle now and then
And it gets worse as age advances
And magnifies his ignorances


  1. It is well that the distinctive marks are on the underside of the wings, as they rarely show the upper side while perched. []
  2. For info on how to tell a Viceroy from the very similar Monarch, please visit Viceroys []

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