The Syneda Moth, like other Noctuids or nocturnal moths, can see in the dark. When our eyes cannon penetrate the black shadow, this beautiful little moth flutters through the mysterious night with perfect ease, detecting other moths of its own kind and swirling with them in a ghostly dance rarely seen by the eyes of man. But other eyes do see the moths dancing, eyes in which the irises can spread as wide as if curtains were pulled back from a window until every tiny atom of light can enter. Squart poor-wills, birds that appear like the dead leaves of the forest floor, crouch to the ground watching the approaching moths. They are the tigers of the moth world. Suddenly one poor-will launches itself in the air, its wide and hair-lined mouth gaping wide like a great trap, its movement silent as a springing panther. Into that wide cavern three or four moths fall and are trapped with a single snap of the beak. Others, frightened by the fierce attack, drop quickly into the brush, hiding their bright hind wings by folding over them the duller front ones.
The Acmon Blue is told immediately from other related species by the lovely orange and black-spotted band inside the margin of the high wing. The male is lighter blue color than the female, which also has considerable brown color. These delicate little blue butterflies flit gently among the grasses and flowers of meadows and gardens, usually fluttering so helplessly that they are easy to catch. They do have one protection against birds and that is by lighting on a grass stem and folding the wings. The sudden disappearance of the blue color of the upper wings, being replaced by the lighter colors of the undersides must be confusing to a bird, even though the butterfly does not become completely camouflaged.
In the dark jungles of Central America and South America all kinds of animals and birds and insects hunt butterflies. Life for a butterfly in these places is one continual flight from danger. Some butterflies escape by their swift flight, others by camouflaging themselves to look like bark or leaves. Still others carry a poisonous substance within them that make most other creatures leave them alone in disgust. But perhaps the most interesting way of all is when one butterfly mimics or copies the appearance of a poisonous butterfly so it too will be left alone.
A wingspread of nearly three inches makes this butterfly one of the largest of the Arctics, so called because they are most often found in the far north or on mountain tops. In the forests of British Columbia, and southward through the mountains to California, the Greater Arctic secretively hides upon the decaying bark and dark mosses of fallen trees. But the males seem to be possessed by a great curiosity, for every so often they dart out to investigate some passing insect or lizard or even a man. The more placid females usually stay in hiding, but when they do fly their flight is so slow and stately that they are easily netted by the collector. Whether the vigilant and active males are actually trying to protect the females is not definitely known, but they sometimes act as though they were trying to either drive away or even lure away an intruder.
The Monarch may be the king among butterflies, but the Painted Lady is undoubtedly the queen, for she ranges where even the Monarch does not go, in the hearts of Africa and South America. The Painted Lady can be quickly told from the similar Virginia Lady (Vanessa Virginiensis) by more numerous eye-spots on the under sides of the hind wings; while she will not be confused with the West Coast Lady (Vanessa Carye) if one notices that the Painted Lady has rounded tips to the fore-wings, while the West Coast Lady’s are square.