Skip to main content

Hackberry Emperors, quadrupled

A quartet of Hackberry Emperors, Asterocampa celtis, adorn a tree at Kiwanis Park in Columbus. This little-known park is nestled along one of the wilder sections of the Scioto River in this otherwise urban area, and is one of my honey holes when little time is available.

So it was back on August 2, when only a few hours were available to shoot some images. So off to the nearby Kiwanis Park I went, where something of interest can always be found. I had meant to post these pictures long ago, but they got preempted by this, that, and the other. That happens all of the time. Even one good field trip can produce numerous subjects well worth writing about, and things constantly get sent to the end of the line, often never to see the light of day, at least on this blog.

Anyway, I've long had a soft spot for these beautiful butterflies, and admire their pugnacious mannerisms. Chances are good, if a butterfly boldly lands on you, and stays put, or keeps returning, it is a Hackberry Emperor. I have a number of shots of them perched on people's hats, shoulders, noses, whatever.

It's a well-named butterfly, too. The caterpillars eat hackberry foliage. Hence the scientific epithet of the animal's formal name: Asterocampa celtis. Celtis is the genus of hackberry trees. Kiwanis Park has many such trees, and the namesake butterfly isn't hard to find. The Emperor part of the name comes, I suppose, from their habit of regally using people or other animals as their thrones (but I don't know this for sure and feel too lazy to attempt to find out right now).

There is a sister species that is a near look-alike, the Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton. They're around, but at least from my experience, never as commonly as the subject of this post. In fact, that's what I thought these might be at first, as they seemed so bright and buffy - not the colder gray tones that I associate with the Hackberry Emperor. But color varies, and these are bright individuals. A good mark to differentiate the two involves those dots and the bar along the leading edge of the forewing, closest to the body (the black marks, inboard from the white ones). In the Hackberry, the inner bar is broken into two dots. In the Tawny, they congeal into a continuous bar (Hackberry: bar and two dots; Tawny: two bars).

Hackberry Emperors seem prone to perching head down on trees, just as this one is doing. They are easy photographic subjects, often allowing very close approaches. In fact, too close sometimes, as when they land on your camera lens.


Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…