Subject: White, Black and Orange Butterfly, Helena National Forest, Montana
Location: Helena National Forest, MT
August 8, 2017 4:22 pm
I saw this butterfly in Montana back in July and haven’t been able to “pin” down what type it is. The color brings up too wide of a search result, and most of them more black and orange than white. I’ve seen swallowtails with similar coloring, but this doesn’t seem to be a swallowtail by shape. Birds are usually my target, but I do try to ID the butterflies as well, and this one is flummoxing me!
Signature: Tina Toth
Please forgive us for bypassing your question to tell you this is just about the most beautiful image we have seen in a long time of a butterfly. With such shallow depth of field, you were quite lucky this perfect specimen decided to pose with its wings parallel to the film plane. As you can see by this BugGuide posting, this is a Weidemeyer’s Admiral, Limenitis weidemeyerii. What was the environment like? According to BugGuide: “Found around wet places where its host plants grow” and “Larvae feed on Poplar (Populus spp.), Willow (Salix spp.) and perhaps other woody plants.” Woody plants have sparked quite a dialog on our site and its Facebook page of late.
Thank you for the glowing compliment! I blush! I think my experience trying to capture birds has helped with be more patient with setting up a butterfly shot, but I always consider myself lucky either way. I have a lot of pictures of empty branches!
This is where I found it, and your comments about environment are spot on. There is a creek that runs through the area, and the woods are fairly old and dense. A lot of pine, but also a lot of shrubs because of the creek, such as willow.
I’ve stopped here twice going to and from vacation spots in Montana. It’s a good spot, but small, to find a thrushes, flycatchers and a yellow warbler or two while you stretch your legs a bit.
Thank you for the ID, I would’ve never ever figured out the type from the underside of the wings, compared to the pictures of the topside I see with the name look up! Even worse, I have what I think is a White Admiral from 2012, and didn’t make the connection. There was also another butterfly from the same place and date I haven’t had the time to ID either, though it looks like checkerspot or frittilary. Attached, just for fun.
I started bird watching in 2013, when I got sick, and 10 months later had brain surgery (long story) but it’s taken us some amazing places, and we love to see all the wildlife along the way. Below is a link to my better shots from as far back as 2010, and if you click on the “i” it tells you when, what and where, though please don’t think you have to ID them. I am pretty OCD about IDing birds and trying to not let it get too deep into other things I see, haha! Anyway, just enjoy if you have the time. And yes, you helped me ID the Police Car moth a couple of years ago! 🙂