While summer is known as the best time to look for butterflies, the fall months can be rewarding as well. Although the butterflies are less common and less numerous, unusual butterflies often show up. Today, I found five butterfly species in the yard. The first of these, a Cabbage White, is a very common butterfly during the warmer months. This species is often one of the first butterflies in the spring, so I was not surprised to still find a couple of these.
The second species was the Monarch. Several of these passed through the yard today, a few of which stopped to nectar on the various flowers that are still blooming. I also managed to tag two individuals, one male and one female.
The third species was a bit of a surprise to find. The Gray Hairstreak is a very common butterfly in August and September, but it does not usually stick around into October. I found one very worn individual on the various Asteraceae that are still in bloom.
The Gray Hairstreak wasn't the only hairstreak around today. While watching the Gray Hairstreak, I saw a flash of blue in the corner of my eye. I followed the small butterfly, thinking it was an Eastern Tailed-Blue, a common butterfly during the warm months. However, when the butterfly landed, I noticed that it was larger and grayer than a blue. The butterfly, similar in size to the Gray Hairstreak, was grayish and had a distinctive white spot near the base of the wing. This butterfly turned out to be a White M Hairstreak. This is a fairly uncommon butterfly in the region(especially this late), which I have only seen twice before.
The final species, which is by far the most beautiful butterfly of the day and maybe the prettiest butterfly in Pennsylvania, was the Milbert's Tortoiseshell that spent the day on the blooming Chrysanthemum. This gorgeous butterfly shows up every year in October and sometimes stays until December. Since this is also a fairly uncommon species, I was excited to find and photograph it!
Be sure to check your flowers for any late-season butterflies!