We have had a strange combination of dry weather followed by very heavy rains here in Iowa. We are also in the midst of an irruption (an extreme increase in the population size) of painted lady butterflies. After the rains, the butterflies are attracted to the moisture that remains in the soil and on the gravel on roads. So our gravel roads can be covered with butterflies.
I have seen both phenomena before, but I have not seen them come together in quite the way they did today. I drove to Marietta Sand Prairie today and my car flushed up butterflies all along the way. It was especially noticeable on the few miles of gravel roads that I drove, but there were even good numbers of butterflies sitting on the blacktop roads, attempting to get a little moisture from the surface.
This photo has eleven painted ladies and two red admirals. There were plenty of places along my trip that had concentrations similar to this.
The purpose of my trip was to photograph butterflies, and I was not disappointed.
Gorgone checkerspots are considerably less common than painted ladies, but there were some at the prairie. Like the other butterflies, they were attracted to the wet gravel.
The prairie was in bloom, and even though the painted ladies are quite common they are also quite beautiful. I found myself taking many photos of them.
This butterfly is common the world over.
Other creatures were out, too. This is a marsh fly, apparently in the genus Helophilus.
This is a white form female of the orange sulfur.
I only got a short look at this robber fly. When I spooked him, he flew a few feet away and landed facing in my direction. It sure seemed like he was watching me.
This question mark butterfly spent some time on a common milkweed.
With all the milkweed in bloom, I kept a sharp eye out for hairstreaks, which seem to love this flower. Unfortunately, I only saw one, this banded hairstreak. I was lucky enough to get several photos of it though.