Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Nature: Butterflies (2)
gray hairstreak butterflyGray Hairstreak-  Widespread and abundant, the Gray Hairstreak is one of the most common hairstreak butterflies in Florida. This butterfly is extremely fond of flowers and a frequent garden visitor. A smaller butterfly with a wingspan of only 1.0- 1.5 inches, the Gray Hairstreak has small hair like tails on its hind wing which resemble antennae and help deflect the attack of would be predators. This charade is enhanced by the bright orange eyespots and converging lines on the wings below that draw attention to the unique feature.

hackberry butterflyHackberry Butterfly - The Hackberry Butterfly has a strong, rapid flight and rarely ventures out into open areas. With a wingspan of 2.0-2.6 inches, this butterfly perches on sunlit leaves, overhanging branches or tree trunks along forest trails and woodland edges. Males readily establish territories and dart out to engage passing objects or make exploratory flights. Adult Hackberry butterflies are drawn to sap flows or rotting fruit. Although often spotty in distribution, these butterflies can be relatively abundant when encountered.

long tailed skipperLong-tailed Skipper - The Long Tailed Skipper is one of the most common and distinctive Skippers in Florida and, with a wingspan of 1.5 - 2.0 inches, it resembles a small swallowtail. Adults have a quick, low flight. These butterflies are fond of flowers and are often abundant in home gardens. The larvae construct individual shelters on the host by folding over small sections of a leaf with silk. Older larvae may use the entire leaf or connect several leaves together. The Long Tailed Skipper is a migratory butterfly and moves southward each fall to overwinter in warmer portions of Southern Florida.

pearl crescent butterflyPearl Crescent- The lovely tawny-orange Pearl Crescent is Florida's most widespread and abundant crescent butterfly. It is seasonally variable, and spring and fall butterflies are darker and more heavily patterned on the ventral hindwings. The Pearl Crescent is an opportunistic breeder, continually producing new generations as long as favorable conditions allow. The Pearl crescent has a rapid, erratic flight and its wingspan is .9 - 1.2 inches. Males perch on low vegetation with wings outstretched and frequently patrol for females. Freshly emerged males often gather at moist ground.



Monarch butterflyMonarch -The monarch butterfly is undoubtedly, the most familiar and widely recognized butterfly in North America. Monarch butterflies annual fall mass migration is one of the greatest natural events undertaken by any organism on Earth. Adults have a strong, soaring flight and it is an abundant garden visitor. With a wingspan of 3.5-4.0 inches this beautiful orange and black butterfly clearly advertises its unpleasant taste. The striped larvae feed on plants in the Milkweed family from which they sequester toxic chemicals that make them make them highly distasteful to certain predators.

queen butterflyQueen - The Queen, while superficially similar in appearance to the closely related Monarch, does not undertake massive annual migrations. Adult Queens, with an average wingspan of 3.0- 3.5 inches, have a slow soaring flight and are fond of flowers. The Queen Butterfly is a frequent garden visitor and typically rests and feeds with its wings closed. The larvae feed on plants in the Milkweed family and sequester various chemicals that render the butterfly highly distasteful to certain predators.

barred sulphur butterflyBarred Sulphur - The Barred Sulphur is a common butterfly of open weedy sites throughout the state of Florida, where it is abundant in the late summer and early fall. With a wingspan of 1.0 - 1.8 inches, the Barred Sulphur adults have a quick, dancing flight and typically bob among low vegetation. Like many other sulphurs, the butterfly displays a dramatic seasonal variation in color and behavior. Barred Sulphurs produced during the summer months are short-lived, reproductively active and almost immaculate white beneath. Winter forms have highly pigmented and patterned ventral hindwings and overwinter in reproductive diapause.

palamedes swallowtail butterflyPalamedes Swallowtail - The Palamedes is Florida's most commonly encountered swallowtail. Adults have a wingspan of 3.5 - 5.5 inches, and have a strong directed flight. These butterflies avidly nectar at available blooms. Male Palamedes often congregate at moist ground to imbibe diluted minerals and salts. The larvae have an enlarged thorax with a prominent pair of false eyespots that resemble the head of a small lizard or snake.

pipevine swallowtailPipevine Swallowtail - A relatively small member of the family, with a wingspan of 2.75 - 4.00 inches, the Pipevine Swallowtail nevertheless has a strong rapid flight. Adults frequently visit flowers but rarely linger at any one blossom for long. Pipevine Swallowtails continuously flutters their wings while feeding. The velvety black larvae sequester various toxins from their host. These chemicals render the larvae and adults highly distasteful to many predators. As a result, several other butterfly species mimic the color pattern of the Pipevine Swallowtail in order to gain protection.
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