Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Harbinger of Spring

The first butterfly of the season must certainly mean that spring is finally here!

Falcate Orangetip (Anthocharis midea) is considered a harbinger of spring and was a thrill to find. This is the first time I've seen this species in our garden.


 This butterfly is usually seen flying low to the ground March to May. The forewings have hooked or falcate tips. The male's wings also have a distinctively orange tip which gives the species its common name. The hindwings of both sexes are beautifully marbled.


The head and thorax are hairy and look at those eyes~! What a unique creature.


Plants in the mustard family are the host for this butterfly while the preferred nectar plants are mustard blooms and violets. I happen to plant mustard greens in the raised beds this winter which are blooming now.


And violets are blooming abundantly now throughout our garden. 


Males will relentlessly patrol for females along moist woodlands, stopping briefly for food. Females will only lay one egg per host plant which is yellow-green and turns red when about to hatch. The caterpillar prefers to eat the flowers and buds (not the leaves).

Unfortunately, this female was either perched or flying too quickly for me to get a photo with the wings open. I didn't spot a male but hopefully there is one around.

23 comments:

  1. Very unusual butterfly. Haven't seen one in person before. Don't think we see them here at all.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Cher, Ohio is in their range so you could see one. This is the first year I planted mustard greens so I do wonder if there is a correlation.

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  2. That is a pretty butterfly, but a great capture too. Early Spring has so many surprises and often they are little and need to be found - like the cute violets.

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    1. Thanks Donna! You are right, so many of the spring ephemerals are small when they are first emerging and you have to look closely to find them. These very tiny violets are all over our woodland garden appearing in the most unexpected places. Almost like little fairy flowers.

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  3. A lovely harbinger of spring. It is a beautiful butterfly. I have not seen any butterflies yet, but I am waiting and watching.

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    1. It won't be long now! I hope you will report what species you see first!

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  4. My heart soared when I read this post, Karin. What a beautiful butterfly and a wonderful sign of spring!

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    1. It makes me happy that you enjoyed the first butterfly sighting as much as I did!

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  5. You must be so patient to capture these butterflies! I love the tiny little violets x

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    1. This one was perched most of the time. I was hoping it would fly so I could get a shot with the wings open but no such luck. As photographers I think we are the mercy of nature most of the time.

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  6. What an interesting butterfly! So unique looking. Laying only one egg per host plant must be a bit tiring, but I suppose that helps the species to not get wiped out all at once.

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    1. Fascinating how each species have their own survival strategy! But, maybe this is why we don't see many of these butterflies.

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  7. I didn't know there were hairy butterflies. And the coloring of the wings is so interesting. Must make good camouflage in certain settings.

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  8. What an unusual butterfly! I'm unceasingly amazed at the creatures who invariably find the plants they like as soon as we start growing them. Life all around us, seeking ...

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  9. Very nice pictures of a wonderful butterfly.

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  10. I've been seeing a lot of those fluttering about, so lovely!

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  11. Butterflies already! What an unusual one too, at first glance I thought it was just the cocoon.

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  12. What a gorgeous butterfly...I hope to see our early butterflies soon if we can stay warm and stop the snow.

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  13. Not sure what happened to my comment but I'll try again... I love the butterfly and hope we can get warm so spring can finally come...no more snow please.

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  14. I have to say, butterflies are my favorites and you have an eye to catch them, you have many posts with beautiful images of them, this post is lovely, I am glad that spring is really here.

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  15. Finally reading through your posts Karin. Enjoyed the hummingbird info and those chipmunk photos are too cute. If only they weren't rodents.
    I have been seeing a lot of butterflies lately....Tiger Swallowtail today and a Spicebush butterfly yesterday. Spring is here!!!!

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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