Friday, October 2, 2015

Red Admiral along the Little Miami River...

...what a beauty, and what a fast and elusive flyer too! A few weeks ago, Rick and I watched this fellow zipping all around us showing off his agility and quick moves. He'd fly in close enough to get our hopes up, and then he'd fly out again, until finally, he flew in and lit on a stem within camera range. What a twisty little thing he was. You would think he was a professional flyer or something...

Family Nymphalidae are called brush-footed or four-footed butterflies because they look like they only have four legs.
A Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) at rest (finally). Even with his wings closed, he is a beauty when viewed up close.

Seasonal migration
Red Admirals are fleet of wing, and like Monarchs, they undergo seasonal migrations. They can't survive cold winters, so they don't overwinter in our area. Some of the butterflies from the fall generation migrate south to winter in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, and other southern states. North America is then recolonized each spring by butterflies coming up from the south. Click here for a 2012 post about a Red Admiral at a sap flow on our dying Ash Tree. It explains more about their migration patterns and also irruption years.

Red Admirals are seasonal migrants. They head south for the warm winters. They can't tolerate our freezing winters.
With wings open, the orange and black make Red Admirals a perfect Halloween butterfly. 
Too bad they usually take off for southern climes before October 31.

Brush-footed Butterflies
If you study the first photo, it looks like the butterfly has only four legs (two on each side), but insects have six legs, so what's up? Brush-footed Butterflies (family Nymphalidae) have six legs, but the first two are so small, you don't notice them. The butterflies don't walk on these very short forelegs, and some species don't even have feet on them, they just have little brushes or hairs, which accounts for the common name, "Brush-footed Butterflies." Because you only see four legs, this family has another nickname, called "Four-footed Butterflies." To learn more about them, click here or here. You can also click here, for an earlier post on a Mourning Cloak butterfly, which is another Brush-footed Butterfly.


Roy said...

Nice shots, Kelly! I actually have better luck with them sitting still than most other species of butterfly. I'm still trying to get a decent dorsal shot of a Clouded Sulfur.

Roy Norris said...

Lovely images Kelly, a real beauty.

Kelly said...

@ Roy - Thanks! I tried to get one of those last week to no avail. They are wary!

@ Roy N - Thanks, Roy! A butterfly seen on both sides of the pond. I liked your posts of the Admiral last week.

Tammie Lee said...

such a lovely butterfly
i think i have seen a couple here in Montana
but they were slightly different in color
so amazing to consider their migration
and their tiny feet