Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ladies Visit the Garden

It's always exciting when several butterflies visit the garden at the same time. One afternoon last week there were two orange and black butterflies in our atrium that looked so similar I thought they were the same species. Looking more closely I could see they were different, especially when comparing the undersides of their hindwings.

The first is a Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui. The underside of its hindwing has 4 small eyespots.

The second is an American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis. The underside of its hindwing has 2 large eyespots.

When I showed our Nature Guide Jon the photos of the two species, he reminded me that I had also photographed a third species of Vanessa. A few weeks earlier we had spotted a Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, on the D&R Canal towpath. So we've gotten to see all three of the eastern North American species of the genus Vanessa.