We have been long overdue for a butterfly and some green vegetation here at the Journal. While snow and winter is fun for a while, it makes even the small white butterflies more worthy of investigation and appreciation. Thanks to a trip to the Sunshine State, this was a "life" butterfly for me. Most fellow Ohioans wrote this guy off as a Cabbage White, but something about its size, a bit larger, and shape made it worth a second look.
The Great Southern White, Ascia monuste is primarily found in salt water coastal marshes in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. Unlike our Cabbage White the wing tips have a zig-zag black outer margin and there is no spot present on the male.
Look closely and you'll note the antennae "knob" is an enticing shade of teal. There are many interesting field marks on this "plain" white butterfly if one takes time to stop and study it a bit.
The plants in Florida were amazing, and our guy seems to be nectaring on some sort of plant in the bidens group. I was totally at a loss to name most of the flora and regretted not having a good field guide-book for the region. Field trips with incredible birds still left half of my brain puzzling over the botany and no one around to help me sort it all out. If only there was a "Botany-Jam" I-Pod program, it would be like having my favorite guide, Jim McCormac in the field!
One other gent who would be most helpful, Dr. Jaret Daniels, is found at the University of Florida. Not only a crack butterfly expert, he is well versed with flora and will be one of the Flora-Quest guides this year. He led trips at last year's Appalachian Butterfly Conference and folks love being in the field with him. However, spaces in his group are limited and you'll want to register soon.