May 22, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Spring means time for a butterfly hike
If you like the outdoors, there are a lot of reasons to like spring. One that would be near the top of my list is the fact that spring hikes often coincides with emergence of the butterflies.
The Pacific Northwest has so many. Admittedly, I’m not so good at knowing them by name, so for our readers with butterfly expertise, please feel free to chime in in the comments with common names, accounts and the Latin names if you know them.
And while my identification skills might be lacking, I sure do like seeing them flutter by as I walk. We did our best to get photos but it takes a photographer with a better set of lenses and more patience than me to catch quality images. The ones in this post come from a recent hike near Cashmere.
In terms of descriptions, I might as well start with the butterfly that is almost always first on my list in terms of being seen, the Mourning Cloak butterfly.
With chocolate brown wings edged in white, the Mourning Cloaks make up for their lack of splashy color with motion.
Despite there somber common name, my wife calls them the flamenco dancer butterfly. Wary and quick, they alternate between flapping their wings with furious rhythm and gliding and quick dramatic circles. The barely passable picture on the right marks my best of countless attempts to get one to sit still long enough for a shot.
For roughly the first three miles of our hike there was constantly at least one Mourning Cloak in view along with numerous other butterflies.
There were big bright tiger swallowtails and all sorts of medium-sized brown spotted butterflies, and occasional hordes of the small blues that always seem to cluster where water and lupines can be found together.
One dramatic butterfly we kept seeing in multiple locations and never sat still long enough for us to photograph was what I think may have been the Stella Orangetip which has cream-colored wings that appear to have been dipped in bright orange on the tips where the wing widens at the top.
There were more that flitted away too quickly to be mentioned. In all, they were a wonderful addition to the hike. So if you get a chance to get out this weekend, keep an eye out for butterflies and, if you’re lucky, maybe you can slow down long enough to just spend some time looking at them and their vast variety of color.
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