There is an old saying that a bad day fishing beats a good day at work. The same is true about chasing butterflies. Still, when you do something you love to do there are times it just does not work the way you want it to.
I had a long drive over the weekend, and I was seeing lots of plantings (and possibly some natural colonies) of butterfly milkweed along the roadways. Butterfly milkweed is a butterfly magnet–you can usually find all kinds of butterflies visiting it in a prairie or savanna. So I figured I would visit a prairie today and take photographs of the butterflies on the milkweed.
So I visited Medora Prairie in Warren County in Iowa. I saw lots of butterfly milkweed there, but none of it had butterflies on it. I really only saw a couple of bees on it. Maybe it is past its peak, or maybe I was just there at the wrong time of the day.
There weren’t huge numbers of butterflies, either. There were quite a few common wood-nymphs, some buckeyes, American ladies, cabbage whites, pearl crescents, a single red-spotted purple, and a single little yellow. I did also see a regal fritillary, but I was not able to get a photograph of it.
I took a lot of photos, but never really got one that I thought would be good. It was hot and humid, and I had an overriding feeling of failure when I was done. Yes, you can feel like a failure doing something you love to do.
I decided to go to an area about an hour to the south of there, called Slip Bluff Park. This area is also good for butterflies.
When I got in my car, I noticed that I had a little visitor.
I photographed this little jumping spider, then let him loose. Things were starting to look a little better.
I can walk to Slip Bluff Park from an interstate rest area on I-35. If I wanted to drive into the park I would have to drive about ten or twelve miles more.
I saw this dusted skimmer along the dam.
Several places I saw pearl crescents in mating chases. Often this involves three or four individuals, instead of just two. The female is above, the male below.
As I was crossing the dam to go back home, I saw a small blue butterfly. I was not going to try a photo, because I initially thought it was an eastern tailed-blue. They are normally very common and I have plenty of good photos of the species. But I saw that its wings were spread, and normally it is hard to get the bright blue upper wings, so I stalked it and started taking photos.
As I was photographing it, I realized that it was not an eastern tailed-blue. It was a melissa blue. This butterfly is rare in Iowa, especially in this part of the state. This might possibly be a new record for the county.
So on a day that I felt like I was failing I did enjoy some success. Not a bad day after all.