Signs of spring are in the air at Dorsey's Knob Park! Literally! The other day as I sat atop Sky Rock, I saw at least three different species of butterflies flying around the top of the Knob. Have you ever actually taken a few minutes to watch a butterfly to see what it might be doing? Contrary to first impressions, butterflies do not just randomly flit about the countryside. Rather, they are generally quite busy as they move and act with purpose.
By far the most abundant butterflies at Sky Rock were the tiny blue Spring Azures, which can be seen by the thousands at Dorsey's Knob on a warm day in April. These particular ones had been attracted by the nectar-laden blooms of a nearby shrub.
Joining the Spring Azures in the air was a lone male Falcate Orangetip. As the name suggests, this small white butterfly has bright orange-colored wingtips...or at least the males do. This particular Orangetip had claimed Sky Rock as part of his little territory. I watched as he patrolled the perimeter looking for possible mates or the incursion of a rival male.
As I watched the Azures and Orangtip go about their butterfly business, a different medium-sized butterfly circled Sky Rock twice before landing right beside me. It was an American Lady butterfly.
The American Lady is a spring migrant, which winters in the more mild south, but migrates north into West Virginia and beyond to breed. This particular butterfly only stayed long enough for me to pull out my phone and take a few quick pictures. After resting for but a moment, it again took to the air to continue its journey north.
Since that day, I continue to regularly see the Spring Azures visiting blossoms and the Falcate Orangetips patrolling their territories at Dorsey's Knob. Unfortunately, I have not seen any other American Ladies paying a visit to Sky Rock.
Field Notes from Dorsey's Knob
Thoughts and observations on the natural history and current happenings at Dorsey's Knob Park.
About the Author
John Boback is a naturalist, historian, environmental educator and caretaker at Dorsey's Knob Park. He can often be seen around the park staring intently into the trees through binoculars or crouched down trying to photograph a wildflower or an interesting insect. If you see him, take a moment to say hello.