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This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

Posted by monkeybelle 7 (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 8, 12 at 12:23

Okay, thinking caps needed. Twice last year and once yesterday, I caught a glimpse of a butterfly. I have never seen this one resting or feeding so unfortunately I can't give a detailed description. I'd love to find out what it is and maybe plant accordingly, even just for the reason that it bugs me to not be able to put a name to it. Here goes....

Quick moving (dive bombed my husband's head yesterday so possibly territorial as well?)
About the size of a monarch
Hind wings were smooth and angled (as best I could see)
With the buterfly being back-lit by late afternoon sun, it appears to be red/maroon/deep reddish mahogany in color.

It was in my garden which is in southern NJ (right on the edge of Camden county, just a few minutes away from Gloucester county.) I am also not far from Philadelphia, so this might be something seen in southeastern PA. I have a golf course across the street so wide open space, there is a wooded park in close proximity with a creek and some marshy spots.(in case environmental clues help.)

Any brainstorming/ideas are welcome, even far fetched. I have tried the discover life site and didn't really see anything close (but I don't always have success there.)

Also, thanks to everyone, whether I have communicated with you or not, for all the tips and stories you tell here. I have, for the first time, 7 monarch chrysalids! The transformation process was amazing, and I can't wait to see if and when these guys emerge. Very exciting!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

Sandy...if it isn't a monarch...maybe a Viceroy??? They are definitely in your area & the few I've seen are a deeper red than the monarchs.
I look forward to seeing what other...more expert butterfly raisers say!!!???
Take care,

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

What you have described makes me think Goatweed Leafwing. I'm not sure that they are in your area; however, the habitat you described sounds like where they are found. They lay eggs on croton and perch in trees. They will go after something orange. Check out the photos and see what you think.

I have lots of the caterpillars feeding on croton that I planted in my BY. I live in Oklahoma, though, where they are abundant.

Sandy from OK

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

My guess is a really long shot too...
I'm trying to think of something that might have a maroonish cast. Could that be it a Goatweed Leafwing or a Mourning Cloak?

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

If it's maroon, I know of no other butterfly it could be but a mourning cloak.


RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

The Goatweed Leafwing looks like the right shape and color, but I can't find any reference to them living this far up the east coast, but they are found in Virginia and that's just a couple hours away. Kind of a stretch though but it had been an exceptionally mild winter. The description of their flight pattern matches too.

I had thought maybe Viceroy or Mourning Cloak too but they don't seem quite right. The wings look more curved than what I saw but then again it happened so fast. Although they are more than welcome to come to my yard and prove me wrong!

I saw it again in my neighbor's yard and just could not get to my camera in time. So frustrating! The color was the same, red like a maple leaf in autumn. Very pretty. I'll just keep stalking the yard!!!

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

...but in the event that it is a mourning cloak, they prefer rotting fruit? Perhaps I can find some and set a dish out...

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

What trees do you have in the yard/neighborhood?

When we are surveying in the woods, the butterflies that tend to check us out are hackberry and tawny emperors, mourning cloak, commas, and question marks.

- Elisabeth

RE: This is a really long shot as far as identifying goes.

We have a lot of maples. There must have been a sale on maple when the area was being developed, because nearly every property has 2-3 maple trees. In the general area there are also a lot of pine, oak, and beech.

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