Behold Vanessa atalanta, a red admiral butterfly. On the sunny morning of December 13th I saw perhaps a dozen of them in the half-hour that I spent by a poverty weed bush, Baccharis neglecta, in my neighborhood. What I’d never seen before was the way this butterfly drew sustenance not from a flower (those of the poverty weed had long since given way to seed-bearing fluff, and even most of that had blown away by this late date) but from a small opening in the bark of one of the bush’s branches. I don’t know what liquid the red admiral’s tongue was able to extract from that opening, but the butterfly was so caught up in what it was doing that it let me get very close and take picture after picture.
If you’re interested in learning more about red admiral butterflies, here’s an article about them. If you’re interested in photography as a craft, points 1 (which I often mention) and 18 (which I’ve rarely mentioned) in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph.
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman