One of My Favorite Little Butterflies

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)June 16, 2013

On another thread, we discussed the difficulty of finding pearl crescent caterpillars. I've planted new asters in hopes of finding one (or more) one day.
This little beauty was nectaring on some tropical milkweed today -


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I have seen evidence of larval activity on my Aster oblongifolius, but have never found the caterpillars. Maybe they feed at night, maybe predators find them, or maybe they are something other than Pearl Crescents. Who knows. I see them similar Checkerspots and Crescents around the yard, but for the life of me I can't distinguish them from each other. I do know that the Aster I grow is a reported host for them.

Lovely photo, MissSherry!


    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 5:38AM
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Very nice picture, Sherry. Is there a particular Aster that attracts these butterflies? Do they use the normal flowers for nectar? Any pictures of them?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 7:23AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've found them on Echinacea purpurea more often than any other flower, but, as you can see in the picture, Tom, they like milkweed, too.

I don't know of a particular aster they prefer, never having found a caterpillar - it's on my 'bucket list' of cats to find. They must be somewhere, because I see the adults every year. I HAVE raised common checkered skippers when I was lucky enough to find some tiny cats embedded in the top, newest leaves of fan petals/Sida. Pearl crescents are about the same size as they are, so I know they'd be very tiny.

I just keep checking asters for signs of being chewed.

My favorite field guide shows the females with a lot of markings on their undersides, and the males nearly pure yellow, so this pearl crescent from a year or two ago was a female -

I wish I had gotten a picture of the undersides of the one on the milkweed, so I'd have a better idea if it was a male or female.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:25AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Beautiful shots of a SWEET looking little butterfly Sherry. I see the adults occasionally here in my yard. Now, I will start trying to be sure to get those underside shots too. Good luck with them. I hope you get cats!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Very nice! I think the best way of finding them is to watch the female lay eggs. Supposedly it is easy to spot. I know that I can tell when a female butterfly is laying by her behavior. So, it shouldn't be a problem as long as you have the plants. My NE aster is about ten inches long and in a small pot. So, I don't think I will be attracting any this year. So, those of you with NE aster in your yards, start watching for a pearl crescent that is hopping around your plant. After it is done, then examine the leaves for eggs. If she has left you some, you will be up to your eyeballs in caterpillars if the literature is correct!


    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 11:22PM
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I thought that it was Silvery Checkerspots that used the coneflowers, and that PCs only use Asters?????


    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 6:54AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I meant as nectar plants, Susan. You're right, silvery checkerspots are the ones who lay their eggs on coneflowers, and pearl crescents lay theirs on asters.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 10:58AM
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Oops, I didn't catch the nectoring part....

My.apologies, don't know what I was thinking! Of course you'd know that, MissSherry. I must be zoned out.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 12:09PM
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