Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Doing our respective things

with 36 comments

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Rain-Lily 7216

When I was photographing on September 9th at the end of Perry Lane near 45th Street I was fortunate to have a variegated fritillary, Euptoieta claudia, land on one of the nearby rain-lilies, Cooperia drummondii, and stay there long enough (over three minutes!) for both of us to do our respective things. Notice the chunk missing from yonder wing.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 18, 2014 at 5:33 AM

36 Responses

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  1. Ganz wunderschöner Falter ☼


    September 18, 2014 at 6:14 AM

  2. Really lovely photograph, can I ask which lens you used for that shot?


    September 18, 2014 at 6:23 AM

    • I used the Canon L-series 100mm macro lens and a 12mm extension tube that lets me focus a little closer than the lens alone would.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 6:43 AM

  3. It is astonishing how butterflies can go on with broken wings! Beautiful details, must mention the eyes once again! This “euptoieta claudia” definitively should have a small gold crown shining on top of her head! Beautifully graceful close up photo!


    September 18, 2014 at 6:30 AM

    • Many butterflies seem quite able to fly even if they’re missing surprisingly large (to us) pieces of one or more wings.

      I’m with you when it comes to butterflies’ eyes, and they’re the feature I try to get in focus, no matter what else goes out of focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 6:49 AM

  4. Do you see the fritillaria to go with the fritillary? http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=FRAT


    September 18, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    • I just checked the distribution map and found that that species doesn’t grow anywhere in Texas, so no, I’ve never seen it. The name fritillary was made from Latin fritillus, which meant ‘dice box.’ The fact that some plants and butterflies should have the same name puzzled me when I became aware of it, and I’ve conjectured that it has to do with the spots found on certain species of each.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM

      • A good conjecture, I would say.


        September 18, 2014 at 7:04 AM

        • And I’ll conjecture further that in places where the ranges of these plants and butterflies overlap, some word-minded nature photographers have shown both in the same picture.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 18, 2014 at 7:17 AM

          • Indeed. And I thought http://mikehowe.com/ had done just that. I remember learning about the fritillary and the fritillaria via his blog but I can’t find a blog reference for you.


            September 18, 2014 at 9:15 AM

  5. Knowing how small the rain lilies are, two things delight me about this photo: the strength of the flower, and the relative lightness of the butterfly. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have imagined a butterfly landing on one of these. A bee? Sure — or one of those fun little flies. The balance between the food source and the food seeker is wonderful. Even if the butterfly’s just resting, it’s an amazing photo.


    September 18, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    • You made me curious so I looked online and found a site that says a large swallowtail weighs 0.3 grams (it take about 28 grams to make an ounce), and this butterfly is smaller than a swallowtail. The fritillary seems to have caused no deflection in the delicate tepals of the rain-lily. I think you’re right that the butterfly was resting because I saw no proboscis action; that might also explain why it stayed put for more than three minutes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 8:21 AM

  6. How much of a crop of your full-frame would you estimate for this final image? And, remind me, is your macro the 100 or the 180? I’m asking because this image is awfully close and yet tack-sharp … what gives? D

    Pairodox Farm

    September 18, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    • I’d say this crop is about 60% of the full area. I have the 100mm (and often add a 12mm extension tube); I appreciate the extra reach of the 180 but not its weight. Important parts of the butterfly are sharp, but at such close range and f/10 I couldn’t get all of the rain-lily sharp, nor the distal parts of the butterfly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      • Ah yes … the extension tube. I’m adding a set of those to my Holiday wish list!

        Pairodox Farm

        September 18, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        • With my EOS 7D aad its 1.6x crop I never used an extension tube, but when I switched to full frame I missed the extra reach.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 18, 2014 at 3:33 PM

          • Got ya. I’ve tried switching my D600 to DX mode and that does give me that crop factor … but I do not think that will keep me from adding the tubes to my list. Do you recommend tubes by Kenko? I think (the other) Steve mentioned them in a positive light. D

            Pairodox Farm

            September 18, 2014 at 3:44 PM

  7. I know people are easily as nimble and useful with chunks missing. Butterflies and hummingbirds confound me with photography. Mostly the latter.


    September 18, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    • Some people have remained nimble after a loss, true enough.

      I rarely see hummingbirds and don’t think I’ve ever gotten a good picture of one, but butterflies are another story: I see so many of them that even if my success rate isn’t that great, I still end up with good butterfly pictures every now and then, as you’ve seen here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      • I’m lacking flowers in my yard for the time-being, so butterflies just pass through. Next spring will be another story, I hope.

        I’ve sticky-posted (is that a technical term?) video of our back porch hummingbird feeder on my home page; you might like it. Now that I have a long lens and a new camera body, I’d like to attempt some still shots before the migration passes. They’re thick at the moment.

        Up here in our school classroom, we watch hummers in the crepe myrtle crown, preening and guarding. Super cute little spheres of fluff.


        September 18, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        • Now that you’ve got your new body and lens, go for it. Based on that video, I’d say you have a great opportunity.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 18, 2014 at 3:31 PM

  8. Wonderful image!


    September 18, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    • And because of more rain (which I hear outside my window even as I’m typing this) new rain-lilies have sprung up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 18, 2014 at 10:01 PM

  9. Beautiful capture here Steve.

    Lisa Vankula-Donovan

    September 18, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    • Hi, Lisa. The shape and color of this butterfly’s wings remind me of some of the segments of the spiny leaf insect your latest post just introduced me to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 19, 2014 at 4:43 AM

  10. What could be better than a rain lily but a lily and a frit?

    Steve Gingold

    September 20, 2014 at 6:12 PM

  11. Boy, this frit has led a difficult life. Do you have an abundance of violets in your area? Around here the fritillaries required Bird’s foot violets and a few others. Common violets grow like weeds in our yards, but I don’t notice any frits eating them. I would be thrilled if they did!


    October 5, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    • What a difference in our situations: Missouri violets are native here but I almost never see any. Some years ago I was thrilled to find a few flowering on the bank of a neighborhood creek, but I think flash floods in the years after that sighting washed all the violets away.

      I often see butterflies as bedraggled as this one, or even more so, and somehow they seem able to function quite well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 5, 2014 at 11:30 AM

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