Monday, July 2, 2012

Butterflies and a hummingbird moth at Mt. Airy Forest...

I visited Mt. Airy Forest in Cincinnati last week. It's the first time I've been there since I was a kid. It's a lovely park with a beautiful arboretum. I started my visit at the treehouse and then headed over to the arboretum. Butterflies were everywhere, and a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird moth made an appearance too...

A Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) sips nectar in the midday sun at the Mt. Airy Forest arboretum.

From a distance, Cabbage Whites may appear a bit dull, but up close they have beautiful wings decorated in subtle shades of yellow on white. Their eyes sparkle in soft tones of turquoise and green. The dark spots on their wings make it easy to identify them. Cabbage Whites are one of our most recognizable and common butterflies. You can find them just about anywhere, and they fly both early and late in the season. Introduced from Europe around 1860, they have spread to most of North America. Because of their long flying season and their preference of cultivated garden plants (i.e., cabbages, mustards, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and radishes) as their host plants, they are often considered garden pests. (Source: "Butterflies of Ohio," by Jaret C. Daniels.)

A Cabbage White Butterfly takes flight. 
Although Cabbage Whites are slower moving than other butterflies, they still take to the wing at the wrong time when being photographed... 

A Cabbage White butterfly uses its proboscis to sip nectar.  
Recent studies at Clemson University in South Carolina show that a butterfly's proboscis is a "marvel of microfluidic design." Students and scientists there are studying the butterfly's feeding tube to learn more about micro-fluidity (the precise management of small amounts of fluid). They hope to create a microfluidic device to improve designs in products ranging from inkjet printers to "lab-on-a-chip" medical technologies. Previously, science assumed the proboscis worked like a drinking straw, but researchers at Clemson have found proboscis functionality is much more complex, and that the proboscis has "structures and properties that combine sponge-like capillary action with straw-like sucking." (Source: the Clemson University web site, here.)

Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffnis) at Mt. Airy Forest.
In our area there are two types of hummingbird moths. This fellow is a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris diffinis). The other type is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe). The two look a lot a like, but Snowberries are smaller and have a yellow face with a black mask. (Click here for an older post with photos of both types of hummingbird moths.)

The Natural Treasures of Ohio!
Mt. Airy Forest is one of the sites in the The Nature Conservancy's Natural Treasures of Ohio sweepstakes. If you go to Mt. Airy Forest, snap a photo of yourself at the super cool Everybody's Treehouse and submit it to enter to win a Honda Insight Hybrid (you have until August 8, 2012). Click here for more information.

20 comments:

Sue said...

I'd love to know how you got such a close-up of a hummingbird moth! They NEVER sit still!
:D

I was showing a friend my flowers one day and there was a BABY hummingbird moth. Talk about cute! I wish I could have gotten a photo. I've never seen one since.

Elaine said...

Lovely photos! I've only seen one Hummingbird Moth this year but no photos.

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful pictures of butterflies and moth.

Kerri said...

Outstanding captures!!!

Carol Mattingly said...

Love these images Kelly. I've never been to Mt. Airy. Sounds like fun. Carol

Roy said...

We get the occasional Hummingbird Moth in the garden center, usually in August and usually around the Salvia and Bee Balm.

Janice K said...

Beautiful pictures....I have never seen a hummingbird moth around here. The only one I have ever seen was in Colorado a couple of years ago.

Dina said...

Beautiful details in both the butterly and bee.

TexWisGirl said...

gorgeous macros, kelly!

Gillian Olson said...

Beautiful shots, and amazing to me as I can rarely get them to sit still long enough for a picture. I saw hummingbird moths recently in France, they are stunning to see.

Jerry said...

I sooo love the Moth pics and just like 'our' UK Cabbage Whites I see you get them on Verbena too.

Olga said...

Great macro!

Roy said...

Brilliant macros Kelly. Butterflies are very scarce here as we have had so much rain over the last two months, which is right at the time that the early species would be flying.

Montanagirl said...

The only Hummer Moth I've seen this year is when we were in Alaska and were visiting our good friends Marty and Elaine of Arctic View. I hope I see some in my own yard!

holdingmoments said...

Excellent macro Kelly.

Banjo52 said...

One more education by Kelly, making me interested in things I didn't know I cared about (butterflies and moths--pretty but ho-hum. Till now).

I'm starting to pay attention to your camera info. In addition to loving your shots in general, I find I'm always impressed most by the sharpness.

(Thought maybe your Mr. Airy ref was to honor Andy Griffith . . . ).

Julie G. said...

Lovely photographs of Cabbage White Butterflies! The lighting, crispness and details are exquisite. Awesome capture of the Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth! They are not easy to photograph, as they are always moving. I usually see Hummingbird Clearwing Moths in our area during the summer. I find them to be so very fascinating. I'm hoping to get my first 2012 sighting soon. Wonderful post, Kelly!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! I love those little hummingbird moths. They are fast. I was lucky with the shot. I snapped the shutter just as he popped into view. Usually it's the other way around!

Banjo -- I love Andy Griffith, but the Mt. Airy reference was purely coincidental. I did think about it, however, when I heard the news of his death...

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

I just loved your photos of the moths. It was really great to see with all the detail.

Guy

Debbie said...

so much detail in these outstanding images!!

gorgeous!!