Mariton: Butterfly Fields Forever
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager. Photos by Carole Mebus, Volunteer
Butterfly Walks started with hot steamy weather. Good for butterflies, tough on the watchers. Little Wood Satyrs are common in early June. They seem to like the shadier areas between the woods and meadows. (I also like the shady areas on hot summer days, so maybe that’s why I like seeing satyrs.) This species at first seems to be drab brown. They can really zip, which makes it harder to see them well even through binoculars. While this individual has seen better days, you can still see its beauty.
We generally see lots of Silver-spotted Skippers, another of my favorites. Right now they are pretty fresh (having just emerged from the chrysalis as an adult), and their white spot is shiny. We also were treated with sightings of Hoary-edged Skippers. Hoary-edged Skippers are related and look similar to “silver-spots”, but we don’t see them nearly as often. That made the morning pretty special for me and it was nice for people to be able to see the two species on the same outing for comparison.
We ended our walk with a Hackberry Emperor. I really like this butterfly because I like hackberry trees. Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) is the food plant for the caterpillars of this butterfly. You don’t see this tree species in a lot of forests, but it is found in many places at Mariton. And fittingly, we see our share of Hackberry Emperors. This is another species that at first may look plain, but upon closer inspection with binoculars is much more impressive. One thing I’ve learned after decades of observing nature, is to not to take things for granted. Most things are worth closer examination. The things that at first glance seem so unassuming are sometimes the most interesting.