I spent the morning walking around in nature today. I was mostly looking for butterflies, but it was not a good day for them. May is always a time of low butterfly numbers, and it was too cloudy for those that would have come out to show themselves. I spent a few hours at The Ledges State Park near Boone, Iowa, and did not see a butterfly there at all. I did see this cute little fly, however.
This is a signal fly that happens also to be a minor crop pest. It is the soybean nodule fly, Rivellia quadrifasciata. Colorful and charming anyway.
Then I went to a canoe/boat access on the north side of Big Creek State Park. This area is always good for butterflies because it has the right kind of mud to attract them–a mix of small gravel, sand, and mud that stays damp but not wet and smells like algae. This area always attracts butterflies. As a bonus, later in the season there will be extensive blooms of swamp milkweed and fog fruit that are also attractive to them. But I only saw two butterflies.
This viceroy started in the mud, then flew to the honeysuckle along the edge of the parking lot. It seemed to have a little trouble basking because of the strong winds.
I startled this red-winged blackbird and he flew a short distance away. His nest must not have been close because he did not come back and bother me.
This northern water snake visited me briefly before diving down under the weeds near the shore.
The only other butterfly I saw was this eastern tiger swallowtail. It flew around a while before landing on the mud so I could get a photo.
A good day spent in nature. I brushed the wet sand off my elbows, knees, and belly, and headed for home.