Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Chalcedon Checkerspot (Family Nymphalidae, Brush-footed Butterflies)

It is almost impossible to take a hike in the brushy parts of California in the spring without encountering this butterfly or its caterpillar or both in large numbers. Every roadway seems to be flocking with the adults, while almost every bush monkey flower, or other plants of the figwort family, seem to be crawling with the very spiny dark caterpillars. The bright reddish-brown and white and black marked butterflies gather in myriads at wet places on the road and rise in clouds when you come near. Being neither strong nor intelligent fliers, they are easily caught. Certainly they do not have the dodging ability of a swallowtail or buckeye, nor the hiding ability of a little blue or a wood nymph.

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Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Dog-Face Butterfly 狗脸蝴蝶 (Family Pieridae, the Whites and Sulphurs)

Throughout the southern states, but sometimes as far north as Illinois, out wet through New Mexico and Arizona and on to California, the Dog-face butterflies are lovers of the golden sunlight. You will gasp with delight when you see the male of the Californian Dog-face, because the fore-wings of this fancy gentleman shine with a splendid purple irridescence that scintillates in the light like a pair of crown jewels. The plane yellow female looks like a drab mate indeed beside her handsome husband, because she lacks completely the strange light area of the forewing, shaped like the head of a dog. But, if you look closely, you will know right away she too belongs to the Dog-face butterflies because of the distinctive sharp point to the forewing.

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Nature: Butterflies and Moths

The Zebra 斑马纹蝶 (Heliconiidae, the Heliconians)

The Zebra Butterfly’s petticoat-like colors, and hesitant, mincing flight make you think of a princess, gayly but shyly emerging from her room for her first ball. The flight is indeed totally unlike that of any other butterfly north of the Mexican border for the wings appear to beat so slowly that you wonder how the butterfly stays afloat in the warm summer air. But try to catch it and suddenly it takes up frantic movements that waft it into some thick brush where it disappears. The magic camouflage mixture of stripes of golden sunlight and dark shadow look exactly like its wings.

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Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Green Page Moth 绿页蛾 (Family Uranidae, the Green Migrators)

In Central America some day you might look up into the blue and see what looks like a great black snake stretching from one end of the sky to the other. You might even see the “snake” slithering from side to side like a real snake dose on the ground, but if you looked at it through your field glasses or a telescope you would see that it was made up of thousands upon thousands of green, tailed moths all determinedly flying from northwest to southeast. Sometimes the great snake appears to drop parts of itself down from the sky and then, if you are in the right place, you see what looks like a river of dark green moths flowing over the surface of the land. Swiftly they rush by you  – day flying moths driven on and on by a frenzy of migration.

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