Mar 3, 2011

bringer of butterflies

When cutleaf toothwort pokes through the leaves, falcate orangetip butterflies are not far behind. They are the primary native pollinator, a small white butterfly whose orange is but a blur. Falcate orangetips rarely spread their wings while perched, showing only the mottled grey underwings.

A glimpse of their orange is a treat, and sitting amid toothworts for a few minutes is your best approach. When they perch, their weight is enough to jostle the flower. They flutter while regaining balance, and occasionally the wings don't fold up all the way, leaving the orange exposed.

I thought I would see one last weekend, but I only saw a mourning cloak and a question mark. I had to dig up a falcate orangetip photo from 2008.

These butterflies are close relatives of sulfur, cabbage and white butterflies, Pierids. One of the more speciose local families, more than a dozen species may be seen in Southern Applachia, most are a good bit larger than toothwort's friend.

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