Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Favorite Color is Eastern Tailed-Blue

The Eastern Tailed-blues emerged here with the warm spring weather of March.

Male Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly
These butterflies are one of my favorites, even though they are tiny.  They are only around an inch across, but always noticeable in my yard due to their flashing, brilliant blue wings.

Eastern Tailed-Blue on a Clover Leaf
The females are a little harder to see than the males, as their wings have a grayer hue. 

Female Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly
The first spring brood of females is the most colorful and has the most blue on their wings.  As the summer goes on, subsequent broods will have even more muted colors, with the whole wing being charcoal gray.

Female Eastern Tailed-Blue Butterfly on Clover
On a sunny summer's day, I am sure to find these butterflies in my yard, as they are attracted to all the clover and vetch that I am encouraging to take over my sloped backyard in lieu of hard-to-grow grass.  


Sometimes there are so many Eastern Tailed-blues in my backyard that when I walk, my feet stir up clouds of little blue butterflies that are disturbed by my passing. 
  
Two Eastern Tailed-Blues and a Clover
Eastern tailed-blues have tiny 'tails' protruding from their hind wings.  When the butterflies land, I often see them rubbing their hind wings together so that these tails wiggle and look rather like fake antennae.  


The theory is that by moving these fake antennae, and with orange spots on the hind wings looking like eyes, birds and other predators have more trouble distinguishing where the head of the butterfly is.  Thus they are tricked into just getting a mouthful of wing, allowing the butterfly to live.


These butterflies are very common here in the Eastern US.  In North Carolina they can be seen from March through October or even November, at which point the caterpillars will hibernate for the winter, often in a seed pod of a favorite food plant.


Until then, I shall be enjoying these tiny but gorgeous winged creatures.

Did I mention that blue was my favorite color?

21 comments:

  1. Indie what a lovely butterfly...I don't think I have seen these in my area...what a beautiful blue color!

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    1. I love the blue! Their range does extend pretty far north, but they're probably less common up there.

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  2. Woah! You've gone all sensible and 'butterflyeee'. WIll the real Indie step forward, there's an imposter in the Red House Garden again! xxx

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    1. Well, I did set out to reveal a shocking exposé on the lives of these butterflies, but.. oh, the horror! It was too much! Much better to let the unsuspecting public just see pretty pictures..

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    2. Indie,
      Really nice photos of these ETBs. We have lots of them here also, no clover blooming yet as you stated they love it.

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  3. Fabulous shots Indie. What lovely butterflies they are.

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    1. Thank you! I just can't seem to get enough of these butterflies and keep finding myself taking pictures of them..

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  4. I saw a few very, very tiny blue butterflies in my garden and I am wondering if they are this butterfly. I will have to take a closer look. It is a very pretty blue. I love the image of kicking up a cloud of blue butterflies. Great photos!

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    1. Very likely! They're pretty tiny, so you have to get up close to get a good look at them. A lot of times they flash more silver as well when they fly, as the underside of them is a silver color.

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  5. Great photos of the butterflies. I like the idea of seeing what the native plants do in the back yard (the clover). Sometimes its the easiest and the butterflies seem to like it!

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    1. Thanks! I have such a sloping backyard, so it's much easier to let the decent looking weeds have it!

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  6. Oh, I agree--that vivid blue on the males is unequaled! Although the mixed hues of the females in early spring is fascinating, too. Thanks for all this great info. I think I've seen this butterfly before, but now I'll look more closely. Great shots!

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    1. It's such a pretty blue. The spring brood of males is usually the most brilliant as well.

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  7. I love this post. Do you have photos of what the caterpillars look like? I'm not sure if we get that butterfly in Michigan but I'll keep my eyes open.

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    1. No, I've actually never seen the caterpillar other than in photos online. They are pretty tiny!

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  8. So pretty! And you are so lucky to have so many in your garden. I don't think I've ever seen this butterfly. But I'll be looking for a flash of blue!

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    1. They are sure to be there somewhere, especially if you have a clover patch!

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  9. So lovely colours! Beautiful photos. I don't see butterflies in my garden that often, even if I have many flowers that they might like...perhaps because most of my neighbour's gardens are either just grass or pavings....they would have to fly a long stretch to get to mine...

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  10. They are a pretty butterfly. I never saw one before. When I visit NC this May, I will have to see one in person. Nice captures.

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  11. FYI - I know there are mixed feelings about awards, but I am giving your blog The Sunshine Award because I appreciate you. I hope you will take it as a compliment. The post is here: http://dreamingofroses.blogspot.com/2012/04/delivery.html

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  12. I've seen those butterflies before but I've never managed to capture such beautiful photos! Last summer I had a lot of them flitting about. It was wonderful!

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