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July 18-October 30, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

Well, the year has come and gone, for butterflies anyway.  I thought I'd wind up my weekly observations with a synopsis for the year.  I began my observation on July 18th and observed my last butterfly on October 30th, giving me 105 total days for observation.  During that time I recorded 18 species of butterflies on 75 days, 8 species of skippers on 52 days, and 5 moths of note on 16 days.

Exhaustive species profile below the fold.

Butterflies:222 recordings

MonarchMonarch
Danaus plexippus

First sighting: July 18th
Last sighting: October 15th
Days sighted: 59

The Monarch lived up to its name, being the unchallenged ruler of the garden.  I recorded Monarchs in 14 of the 15 weeks I kept records, including a stretch of 16 days from mid-August to early September where I recorded at least one each day.  No other butterfly was so reliable.

Cabbage WhiteCabbage White
Pieris rapae

First sighting: July 18th
Last sighting: October 23rd
Days sighted: 35

Another reliable butterfly, Cabbage Whites were also seen in 14 of 15 weeks, though much less consistently during each week.

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Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Papilio glaucus

First sighted: July 21st
Last sighted: September 30th
Days sighted: 31

Unlike the previous two, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail seemed to have a distinct flight time, ending in late September.  I'll have to wait until subsequent years to see if the data bears this out.  The two images, taken a day apart, show female(left) and male(below). Sadly, I never got a good shot of a dark phase female, but you can see a rather distressed specimen here.Tiger Swallowtail

FirstLadyPainted Lady
Vanessa cardui

First sighting: August 6th
Last sighting: October 16th
Days sighted: 19

Having lamented the lack of Painted Ladies early on, it was a bit of a surprise that it turned out to be the fourth most common butterfly.  Again, I'll have to wait until next year to see if  the trend of it not appearing until August continues.
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Orange SulphurOrange Sulphur
Colias eurytheme

First sighting: July 24th
Last sighting: October 30th
Days sighted: 18
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Red AdmiralRed Admiral
Vanessa atalanta

First sighting: July 18th
Last sighting: October 9th
Days sighted: 13

I had always considered Red Admiral one of the most common butterflies in the garden.  It was a definite surprise, and a disappointment, that it was only seen on 13 days during the year.
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blackswallowtailBlack Swallowtail
Papilio polyxenes

First sighted: July 24th
Last sighted: August 21st
Days sighted: 11

Another butterfly that surprised and disappointed with its scarcity.  In addition to being uncommon, its relatively short flight time seems a bit unusual.
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EasternTailed-blueEastern Tailed-blue
Cupido comyntas

First sighting: July 30th
Last sighting: September 25th
Days sighted: 9
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PearlcrescentPearl Crescent
Phyciodes tharos

First sighting: July 31st
Last sighting: September 28th
Days sighted: 5
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Summer AzureSummer Azure
Celestrina neglecta

First sighting: July 23rd
Last sighting: August 29th
Days sighted: 4
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Polygonia interrogationisQuestion Mark
Polygonia interrogationis

First sighting: August 5th
Last sighting: August 29th
Days sighted: 3

An uncommon visitor this year, I got no go photos.  The photo at the left was taken last year.
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Buckeye1Common Buckeye
Junonia coenia

First sighting: September 4th
Last sighting: September 25th
Days sighted: 3

Always a late arriver, though I'd have hoped to see more than 3.
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SulphurCloudless Sulphur
Phoebus sennae

First sighting: October 14th
Last sighting: October 23rd
Days sighted: 3

One of the most conspicuous butterflies of Autumn.  I wish I had been able to get a better picture.
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GiantSwallowtail2Giant Swallowtail
Papilio polyxenes

First sighting: August 21st
Last sighting: August 22nd
Days sighted: 2

The giant Swallowtail has never been a common garden butterfly around here.  I was lucky to see one and catch a photo.
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Grey HairstreakGray Hairstreak
Strymon melinus

First sighted: September 5th
Last sighted: September 11th
Days sighted: 2

I wasn't lucky enough to get a photo of one of my only two backyard sightings.  The one at the left was taken at Walnut Creek Recreation Area in Papillion, Nebraska.
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Limenitis arthemisRed-spotted Purple
Vanessa arthemis

First sighting: August 8th
Last sighting: August 8th
Days sighted: 1

Probably the biggest surprise of the year was the single Red-spotted Purple seen flying through the yard.  The photo on the left was taken last year.
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Speyeria cybeleGreat Spangled Fritillary
Speyeria cybele

First sighting: September 8th
Last sighting: September 8th
Days sighted: 1

Perhaps the most unexpected sighting of the year.  The photo at the left was taken in 2009 at Fontenelle Forest Nature Center in Bellevue, Nebraska.

EcommaComma
Polygonia sp.

First sighting: September 24th
Last sighting: September 24th
Days sighted: 1

Most likely this is an Eastern Comma - Polygonia comma - but without a good look at the underside, I cannot confirm, though I got a good enough look to exclude Question Mark.

This completes the list of butterflies seen in the yard this year.  Altogether, I'd have to say it was a mediocre year.   I would have hoped to have seen more of several species and I didn't record a single Viceroy - Limenitus archippus.  

I'll save skippers and moths for part two.

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