Rare Fall Color October 31, 2007
A bit of fall color that created some excitement yesterday, this unusual southern migrant, Sleepy Orange, Eurema nicippe, had found its way to Shawnee State park. Much to the amazement and surprise of some avid butterfliers, it even stuck around for a few photos. Sleepy Orange may be the most common butterfly in North Carolina, as reported here, but it was a first for all of our group of Ohioans.
Clued in by the smaller size and deeper tones than an Orange Sulphur, closer looks with binoculars gave the opportunity to view field marks that add up for a correct ID. Note the angle of the hind wing, the smaller size and the coloration of the hind wing. These two-brooded (having two generations per summer) butterflies are common in the south, but a rare fall visitor in Ohio. Not many butterflies are still flitting about- so every one should be scrutinized. A good camera and close focus binoculars make it possible to really study these fantastic fliers.
Butterfly watching is another way to appreciate the wonders nature provides everyday. With cool weather pushing fall towards winter, our flying insects will soon disappear until next year. However, some of us are hoping to share our excitement for these little critters in Shawnee next summer. Details will be found on the Flora-quest butterfly page next spring. It will be an exciting way to learn more about butterflies and enjoy the lepidopteran offerings of Shawnee Park and Forest.