Observation of the week – August 14-20, 2021

Our fifteenth observation of the week is this Eastern Tailed-blue. This stunning series of photos taken by Dan (@stariplativky) in Mississauga really showcases just how tiny and delicate these little butterflies are. Like last week’s Least Skipper, the Eastern Tailed-blue also falls into the very small butterfly category, with a typical wingspan between 20-24 mm.

Dan spotted this Eastern Tailed-blue in a natural area near his house. He says: “It is so fascinating how many different species including butterflies live there.” Although Dan had downloaded iNaturalist a few years ago after reading about in a CBC article, but didn’t really get into using it until last year. He says that when Covid started “we were ‘forced’ to go more often to parks. On one such trip my wife asked me about the name of some plant. I took a picture of it and few minutes later had an answer. So Covid is the reason I am using this app”.

This butterfly can easily be mistaken for an Azure or Silvery Blue from afar. You can tell it apart by the small orange dot at the bottom of the underside of it’s hindwing, and like the name suggests – a small tail right next to the orange dot. Eastern Tailed-blues also tend to become more common over the summer. So, if you see the flash of a small blue butterfly flying around these days, it is more than likely an Eastern Tailed-blue.

Eastern Tailed-blue caterpillars eat the flowers and seeds of different plants from the pea family, including Red Clover and Cow Vetch. They are known as a generalist species, which means that they aren’t picky and will live in almost any open habitat, from meadows to forest clearings and even roadsides. You can even find them fluttering about in urban areas.

Adult Eastern Tailed-blues have a very short proboscis (tongue) and are limited to drinking from flowers that are open and have short nectar tubes. They can often be found feeding from the nectar of flowers that are close to the ground – like Wild Strawberry, Vetch, Aster species, and White Clover – as seen in this week’s observation.

Getting good butterfly photos can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time and spotting them while feeding can be helpful. Dan says: “I take pictures using my phone, therefore most of my observations are not documented. But sometimes l am lucky like that day when I was able to approach butterfly from very close.” Have you had good luck with any of your butterfly observations? Let us know!

Post written with Miranda Floreano (@mfloreano), Crew Leader, Community Outreach

Lähettänyt lltimms lltimms, 25. elokuuta 2021 13:42


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