Thursday, May 6, 2010

Crescentspot confusion

Being recently and rather late in life a naturalist, I have been amazed at the tiny, imperceptible differences that go into classifying butterflies. Most of the characteristics can only be determined by killing a specimen; which to me as a naturalist sort of defeats the purpose. So I take my picture and note the general area where the specimen photograph was taken and hope that I can make some sort of identification.

Characteristics, though seemingly trivial, prove to be important in most cases. For example, one species darker below may have a completely different host plant from a species that is much paler below. Unfortunately, the picture with this post is not of the "below" view. Therefore, I cannot tell you if this is a Pearly Crescentspot or a Painted Cresentspot with any degree of accuracy.  I did, however photograph it the two days ago in Indiana, so chances are pretty good that it is not the Painted variety as it is found mainly Nebraska and west.

Crescentspots as a group have a diverse group of host plants; asters, goldenrod, thistle, and sunflower. They are generally a butterfly of grasslands and open fields.

No butterflies were injured or harassed in the making of this post. 

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