Butterfly Hunt

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I enjoy photographing insects. Starting off, butterflies were easy for me. They are cute, unthreatening and some species even sit still. A while back, on a beautiful summer day, I found what appeared to be several Monarch butterflies congregating on some flowers. I later came to know that those flowers were called Butterfly Bushes. The ones I saw had a nice pale purple color. The butterflies just couldn’t seem to resist as they would take flight only to come right back to it over and over again.

When I saw their behavior around these bushes, I realized that if I wanted to capture images of butterflies, my best chance would be to look for these flowers. Find their preferred food source and you’ll find them (much like finding college kids at White Castle). After I took several pictures, I went back home to verify that they were indeed Monarchs. What I found was interesting.

It turns out there are several varieties of butterflies that look very similar. They are the Monarch, Viceroy and Queen. I had never even heard of those others before. So I looked up images and compared them to what I had captured.

They all had black bodies with white spots. The underside of the wings were all very similar with only minor variations. The top side of the wings had a few differences. The Monarch had several black lines (almost like veins), the Viceroy was almost the same except it had a black line that ran parallel to the edge of the hind wing that cut across the other “veins”, the Queen’s “veins” were very faint. As you can see from the image below, the “veins” are pronounced and there is no transverse line on the hind wing.

Monarch Butterfly with open wings

Monarch Butterfly with open wings

From this I would conclude that this is a Monarch butterfly. I have found that identifying insect species can be quite difficult but there is a real sense of achievement when you can confirm it. And now that I know about the butterfly bushes, I can increase my chances of getting a good shot this summer.

Source: National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America by Arthur V Evans

About Dov Plawsky

I am an aspiring freelance photographer and writer. I've always enjoyed the story around the picture and now want to expand upon that. I founded Beyond Your Bag to help share knowledge across like minded people and to hopefully connect those people to one another.