Along with a number of other enthusiasts of all things Lepidopteran, I made a recent trip to Ohio's supreme Butterfly Mecca, Shawnee State Forest and nearby Adams County. This region is just crazy butterfly-wise, as you'll see from some of the pics below. In all, we found 34 species, and many of them in humongous numbers.
Butterfly-weed, Asclepias tuberosa, densely cloaked with many species of butterflies. We found a number of sunny openings loaded with this plant, which wasn't even in peak bloom yet. No matter, to many butterflies it is utterly irresistable. There are probably several dozen butterflies of several species in this photo.
Ditto on Spicebush Swallowtails in terms of abundance. They were everywhere - we must have seen thousands. Quite a show-stopper, this one, especially when newly hatched and vibrant.
There weren't only plenty of zebras in the forest, many a tiger roamed, too. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, that is. These whoppers were everywhere, and often are seen coursing high in the tree canopies, gliding for extended periods like insectian Turkey Vultures. These two, believe it or not, are both females. The one on the left is a normal yellow, while the left one is a dark morph. At least half the females encountered down there are dark, and can look much like other species of dark swallowtails such as spicebushes. Note how the tiger stripes bleed through, though. No butterflies were harmed in the making of this educational photo!
And this is it - the butterfly that lives amongst the ants. Edward's Hairstreak, this one being freshly transformed from the aforementioned caterpillar. The adults still stay in close proximity to the prairie openings and the ant mounds, though, and savvy butterfliers know that the presence of ant mounds means a chance at finding this awesome little butterfly.
If you would like to partake of some of this yourself, along with scores of other interesting animals and plants, come on down for the ABC. We'd be glad to have you.