If you have been outside enjoying these warmer, sunnier days, you may have noticed a butterfly or two in the last few weeks. Observers have been reporting mourning cloaks, eastern commas, and compton tortoiseshells. The butterfly pictured here is a red admiral or Vanessa atalanta, and was just photographed on a very sunny April 23. It was found “puddling” or probing damp, driveway gravel with its proboscis looking for minerals to suck up. Generally, male butterflies of all species do this in order to create a sperm packet that they will pass to the female during reproduction. As the season warms up, you may see a number of males gathered together “puddling” along dirt paths and back roads. If you slowly approach them, you maybe rewarded with seeing them up close and action.
Be sure to visit the museum this summer to see the native butterfly house in the backyard. It will host a number of species including the red admiral seen here. Notice the underside of the wings are different from the topside of the wings pictured above.