Milkweeds and Butterflies

Milkweeds are great flowers for attracting butterflies.  Iowa has sixteen species of milkweed, and our property has six.  The most common is, as the name implies, common milkweed.

I have found that hairstreaks are particularly attracted to milkweeds, and can usually be found by inspecting every milkweed around.  Hairstreaks are generally difficult to find otherwise.

I walked through our field tonight–we have hundreds of plants of common milkweed, but initially I only saw one with a butterfly.  Flowers with butterflies can be seen from quite a distance if you develop the search image for them.


You can see the dark triangle of a butterfly before you recognize it as one.  I did get closer, but only got a fuzzy picture.  It was a banded hairstreak.

While we have hundreds of common milkweed, we only have one small plant of butterfly milkweed.  I saw a hairstreak on it, but spooked it before I could get a photo.  Then I went back and saw a hairstreak on it again.  I was not sure if it was the same one or a different one.  In fact, I thought it could be the same one I chased from the common milkweed.


You have to look close to see this one–towards the right side of the flower.  Once again, the butterfly spooked before I could get close.  This one was a coral hairstreak–no tails, and a long red mark on the hind wing.

Butterfly milkweed is much better at attracting butterflies than is common milkweed.  I wish I had more.

Later, I saw an eastern tailed-blue on the same flower.  Butterfly milkweed makes spectacular photos.


I also saw a great spangled fritillary today, making three new for the year butterflies seen today.

I also removed eight dog ticks from my legs and arms.   Goes with the territory, I guess.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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4 Responses to Milkweeds and Butterflies

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