There’s a nature preserve a few miles from my house that has quickly become one of my favorite places to explore. It’s called Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve. It’s a couple hundred acres of wet prairie, sedge meadow, shrub swamp, grass meadow, and swamp forest. Now I don’t pretend to understand the botanical nuances of each of those habitats, but I get the general idea. The life forms that live in each part of the preserve depend on the soil and water conditions.
Even though I visit Irwin Prairie often, each time I find new and interesting things to learn about. My computer has a folder with hundreds of photos from this amazing place — wildflowers, birds, dragon- and damselflies, beetles, snakes, frogs, turtles, and much more. I’m planning to share many of those soon, but today I just want to do a quick post about the butterflies I saw there this afternoon.
I’d actually gone over there hoping to find some more dragonflies, but the odonata were scarce on this beautiful but windy day. The butterflies, on the other hand, were plentiful and cooperative. I saw at least a half dozen Monarchs, always a welcome sight considering the declining numbers of this important species in recent years.
This little guy was a new species for me — a Bronze Copper. I first thought he was one of the Blues, since I’d recently seen my first Tailed Blue and this one had very similar patterns on the underwing. But when I saw the other side of the wings, I knew it had to be something else.
This next species kept landing on the boardwalk in front of me, seemingly asking to have his portrait made. So I obliged. This is a Common Buckeye. I love the “eyes” on his wings, and the pretty combination of brown and orange.
And last but not least were several beautiful and elegant Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. And for once, they gave me some great photo opportunities as well!
Did you notice that several of these butterflies are feeding on the same plant? Yep, that’s Swamp Milkweed, which serves as a host plant and/or nectar source for so many species of butterflies. I’ve got to get some of that for my new garden!
I’m heading off to Maine this week for a long-awaited visit to Acadia National Park. I’m going to search for dragonflies and birds that we don’t have here in Ohio, so I hope to have some good photos to share with you when I get back home in a couple weeks.
Before I go, here’s a short video of the grasses blowing in the wind at Irwin Prairie today. I think it looks like ocean waves. What a beautiful day this was!