Friday, July 20, 2012

Cabbage White Butterflies & Common Whitetail Dragonflies

Butterflies & Dragonflies too...
When I started this Blog a little over two years ago, it was to share my love, interests, and photos of birds. Writing this blog has taught me a great deal about birds and has been very rewarding to me. However, this summer I decided to try my hand at taking butterfly photos. Of course, one thing leads to another and another...... and another...

Here is the list of the "anothers":
a.) Taking their pictures was not enough. I wanted to know what kind of butterflies that I was taking pictures of, so ...
b.) I had to purchase myself a field guide for butterflies. After perusing several different books, I settled on the KAUFMAN FIELD GUIDE TO BUTTERFLIES OF NORTH AMERICA.
c.) Then after going out and looking for butterflies, I became fascinated with another flying creature -
d. I started taking pictures of Dragonflies... then...
e.) I had to know what kind of Dragonflies I was taking a pictures of.
f.) So far I have been relying on the Internet for information and identifications, but I see a Dragonfly Field Guide in my personal library in the future... then...
g.) I noticed that there were dragonfly-like insects which were a bit different. Whaddya know? There are such things as Damselflies, which, of course I've heard of before, but never really took it upon myself to know what they really were. And now I know that they are related to Dragonflies (both in the Odanta order) and also have differences. So of course ...
h.) I had to start taking pictures of Damselflies and identifying them as well. I also have yet to look for a Damselfly Field Guide, but I suspect they would be included in a book about Dragonflies... then...
i.) Finally, I couldn't just represent my blog as purely a blog about birds. But I didn't want to change the name of the blog or its address, nor start a new one. So I just changed the heading so it included other wildlife of which I might decide to take pictures. I hope you like it. Thanks to my gal Val (my built-in IT Help Desk) for teaching me new and improved Photoshop techniques for me to create the new header look.

Well, enough of the "anothers" and take a look at my first attempts at butterfly and dragonfly photography and identification:

A Cabbage White butterfly (a male with one spot on each wing), Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 6/12/2012.
Very common butterflies throughout the entire country are the Cabbage White butterflies which were swarming all over the place in early June, and will be seen for most of the summer.  I didn't have much of a problem getting a few good pics (Above and Below)...
Another Cabbage White (female with two spots on each wing), a couple of weeks later also in Espenscheid Forest Preserve; 6/26/2012.

A male Cabbage White with wings open, Espenscheid FP; 6/12/2012. Exp 1/1250; ISO 500.
Cabbage Whites usually land with its wings closed. When they did open them it was for just a split second. My challenge was to try to get a sharp focus on one during the split second it had its wings opened (Above: still a bit soft in its sharpness - but so far my best).  I also found that in the bright sunlight, as good as these little guys looked in my viewfinder, their very white color were like mini-fireballs in my pictures. So I had to dial up my shutter speed quite a bit.

A female Cabbage White, yellow variation, Deer Run Forest Preserve, Cherry Valley, IL; 7/1/2012.
I initially mistook the Cabbage White (Above) for a Sulphur Butterfly (a species good for a later post), but it turns out that some Cabbage Whites have a some yellowish variations. Also I labelled it as a female, since females have two spots on each wing. You can see the spots through its opaque wings.

A male Common Whitetail Dragonfly, Black Hawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 6/23/2012. 
Common Whitetails were the first Dragonflies that caught my attention, therefore became the subject of my frst photographs. The males (Above) have large brown spots in the middle of their clear wings. They also have a light blue abdomen with tiny white spots on the sides called cusps. Their head and thorax are brown.
A female Common Whitetail, Black Hawk Springs FP; 6/23/2012.
Initially when I started taking pictures of Dragonflies, I assummed each different looking one was a different type. But it didn't take me long to realize that, like birds, males and females have different markings and colorings. The female Common Whitetail (Above) has a brown abdomen with yellow cusps, while its wings are also clear, but instead of the one large brown patch in the middle of its wings, they score three brown patches on each wing - one closest to its thorax, one in the middle, and one at the tip.
An immature male Common Whitetail, Black Hawk Springs FP; 6/23/2012.
The dragonfly (Above) looked like a cross between a male and female - sporting the female's abdomen and the male's wings. Upon research I learned that this is an immature male dragonfly. Then of course, I had to question - just how long does a Dragonfly live? If it only lived to a couple of weeks like butterflies, then how long would a dragonfly be an immature? a couple of hours? Through some more research, I found out that dragonflies may live (depending upon its species) as adults anywhere from a couple of months to about a half a year. Of the many species, the shortest life cycle (from egg to death) is about six months.  There are even dragonflies that live for several years as aquatic larvae before they emerge and live for a few months as adults. Most dragonflies don't die of old age but are caught by predators. Even if they do survive, they still don't live much longer than a few months.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my first venture into the world of Butteflies and Dragonflies. There will be more to come - as well as more about birds. I can't forget about the birds.

1 comment:

~Val said...

Enjoyed this very much!