Currently viewing the category: "Gossamer Wings"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Butterfly vs. Moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Big Sur, California
Date: 02/21/2020
Time: 10:17 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dearest Bugman,
While on holiday in Big Sur I saw one majestic monarch and many lightly colored winged animals. I’m wondering if they are butterflies vs. moths, I seem to be thinking that moths are nocturnal, but these lovelies were sun worshipping yesterday near a waterfall not too far from the beach.
How you want your letter signed:  Melanie on the Irish Chain

Pacific Azures Puddling, we believe

Dear Melanie on the Irish Chain,
Your image is lovely.  Your sun worshiping Gossamer Winged butterflies are actually enjoying a mud puddle party, a common activity where certain butterflies gather at mud puddles, damp ground or occasionally fresh animal feces to obtain both moisture and minerals.  Your butterflies are Blues in the subfamily Polyommatinae, a group of that especially fascinated Vladimir Nabokov whose speculative taxonomy was proven in the fascinating book Nabokov’s Blues.  We hesitate to provide a species name since we just encountered conflicting information between BugGuide which only lists the Spring Azure as an eastern species and the Jeffrey Glassberg book Butterflies Through Binoculars, the West which does list the range of the Spring Azure,
Celastrina ladon, in western states and which states:  “One of the first nonhibernating butterflies to fly in the spring. Beginning February in Southern California.”  Here is a BugGuide image of puddling Pacific Azures, Celastrina echo.  

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  insect ID
Geographic location of the bug:  south central Virginia
Date: 07/31/2019
Time: 09:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please help me identify this bug.  Thanks.
How you want your letter signed:  Marc

Atala Hairstreak

Dear Marc,
This is such an unusual sighting, that we are quite excited to post it.  A black butterfly with a red abdomen is quite distinctive, and we quickly identified at the Atala Butterfly on the Blue Butterflies page of the University of Florida Gardening Solutions site where it states:  “
The Atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala Poey) is a rare butterfly with a limited distribution in South Florida. The outside of the butterflies’ wings (when folded together) are deep black, with curved rows of iridescent blue spots. They have a bright red-orange abdomen. The open wings of the male butterflies feature an iridescent, bright blue, while the females have only small streaks of blue on the wings. Newly hatched caterpillars are very tiny and pale yellow. Over a day or two they develop into bright red caterpillars with yellow spots.  Atala butterflies suffered massive population declines in the early 1900s; early settlers nearly wiped out the Atala’s preferred host plant, coontie, for its starch. Today, Atala butterflies are considered rare, but the planting of coontie in butterfly gardens and as an ornamental landscape plant has helped the butterfly populations rebound a bit.”  According to Featured Creatures:  ” the Atala butterfly was thought to be extinct from 1937 until 1959 (Klots 1951; Rawson 1961). Although still considered rare with limited distribution, it is now found in local colonies where its host plant, coontie (Zamia integrifolia Linnaeus. f.), is used in butterfly gardens or as an ornamental plant in landscapes. ”  According to BugGuide where it is called the Atala Hairstreak:  “considered by FL to be a ‘Species of Greatest Conservation Need’ (SGCN).”  We are excited not only because of the rarity of the Atala Hairstreak, but also because though it is found in the Caribbean, North American sightings seem to be limited to southern Florida.  We cannot imagine how this gorgeous Atala Hairstreak found its way to central Virginia.  You might want to contact the Prince William Conservation Alliance and the Butterfly Society of Virginia to report your significant sighting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Marine Blue Laying an Egg
Geographic location of the bug:  West Los Angeles
Date: 07/23/2019
Time: 04:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
It may be silly, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to get a picture of a Marine Blue laying eggs.  I’ve been watching them for years in my back yard and rarely ever see them sitting still.
How you want your letter signed:  Jeff Bremer

Marine Blue lays Egg

Dear Jeff,
Your image is great, and there is nothing silly about getting excited about getting an image of a Marine Blue laying an egg.  Was the chosen plant plumbago?  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillar hosts: Leadwort (
Plumbago) and many legumes including alfalfa (Medicago sativa), milkvetch (Astragalus), and mesquite (Prosopis).”

Hi Daniel,
Yes, the plant is a Cape Plumbago. By the way, if you acquire a Cape Plumbago, I suggest it be kept in a pot.  I planted one in my back yard and it rapidly showed it’s intent on world domination.
I also tried to get a picture of the eggs, but they are so small, I cannot see them.
Jeff
Thanks for the gardening advice Jeff.  We have no plans to plant Plumbago, but it is flourishing in our neighbor’s yard. 
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Subject:  mating Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterflies
Geographic location of the bug:  Occoquan NWR (Woodbridge, Va.)
Date: 09/07/2018
Time: 08:22 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Daniel,
I recently was lucky enough to see Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterflies and a pair of Thread-waisted Wasps mating, at Occoquan NWR (Woodbridge, Va.) on September 7th and Huntley Meadows Park (Fairfax, Va) yesterday, respectively, and I thought you might enjoy seeing the images. You are welcome to post these if you like, of course.
Best Wishes,
Seth.

Mating Eastern Tailed Blues

Seth,
Your images are lovely.  Please resubmit using our standard submission form at the Ask WTB? link on our site:  ask-whats-that-bug/
Please limit submissions to a single species per form unless there is a good reason, like a predator/prey relationship.
Thanks

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Possibly Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)
Geographic location of the bug:  Silverdale, WA
Date: 07/12/2018
Time: 12:00 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I think I have correctly ID’d this as a Spring Azure! Hope you enjoy the photo, and as always, it’s been a pleasure visiting your site.
How you want your letter signed:  Bug aficionado

Pacific Azure

Dear Bug aficionado,
Thanks for the compliment and thank you for submitting your wonderful image of what we are going to have to disagree is a Spring Azure, because according to BugGuide, the range of the Spring Azure does not extend that far west.  Our best guess is that this is an Echo Azure,
Celastrina echo, because, according to BugGuide:  “Most western Azures have been classified as belonging to this species name. Where this species and more easterly ranging species meet, and how to tell them apart is not well presented in literature as of yet.”  Of the four subspecies of Echo Azures documented on BugGuide, both the Pacific Azure, Celastrina echo echo, and the Northwestern Azure, Celastrina echo nigrescens, are reported from Washington.  Based on this BugGuide image, we would lean to the Pacific Azure.  We find differentiating the Blues to be especially challenging.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Moth? Butterfly? What is this blue lovely?
Geographic location of the bug:  Benbrook, TX, USA (DFW area)
Date: 11/26/2017
Time: 06:23 PM EDT
This beautiful butterfly/moth was on our front porch when we got home today. Posted it to facebook and no answers yet. I thought it was a moth because I’ve never seen a butterfly with it’s wings folded like that. My mom thinks it’s a butterfly because the antennae are not fuzzy. What is it? It’s still outside several hours later. Pretty little critter! Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Shara

Great Purple Hairstreak

Dear Shara,
We are very excited to post your lovely image of a Great Purple Hairstreak, a Gossamer Winged Butterfly.  Though we have several images in our archives of this species, we have either images showing the closed wings, or we have images of recently emerged individuals with wings not yet fully expanded.  We suspect your individual has also recently emerged from a pupa, and it was perhaps not quite ready to fly when your encounter occurred.

Thank you for the response! This is sad though. It must have let us so close to take pictures because it was already dead. It was upside down on the rug today when I returned home (It was windy outside) Still beautiful, but a small chip is missing from the wing and the antennae fell off 🙁 Sad to think that it had just recently emerged and died so soon. I’ve brought it inside for now.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination