Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Multitudinous snout butterflies and two kinds of white*

with 18 comments

Where the previous post showed you a close and then an even closer view of an individual American snout butterfly (Libytheana carinanta), look at the swarm I found on some frostweed flowers (Verbesina virginica) on November 1st along River Place Blvd. I count at least two dozen butterflies in this picture. The autumn of 2018 has proved a good season for the species, which I’ve continued seeing in other parts of Austin as well.

This multitude of snout butterflies came as a bonus because what I’d stopped to photograph was some poverty weed (Baccharis neglecta), as shown below with another bonus in the form of native grape vines (Vitis spp.) climbing on the bushes. If you look carefully, you may also pick out one or two or three bits of breeze-wafted poverty weed fluff in the air; that’s how this species spreads its seeds.

* A search for “multitudinous snout butterflies” got no hits, so you are probably the first people in the history of the universe (after me) to be reading that phrase. Happy novelty to you.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 24, 2018 at 4:37 PM

18 Responses

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  1. I was so excited to hear there was a multitudinous snout butterfly… it is some consolation to be one of the first to write it! It’s always lovely to see massed butterflies.


    November 24, 2018 at 6:47 PM

    • Better multitudinous than tumultuous, right? Although to be accurate, there was some tumult as a few of these butterflies jockeyed for prized positions on the frostweed flowers. This was the greatest mass of butterflies I’d seen for a long time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2018 at 9:02 PM

  2. Between the butterflies and the blossoms, it makes a very pretty picture.
    Even without a web search, I would have laid a $50 bet, that this was the first usage of “multitudinous snout butterflies,” and it seems unlikely we’ll see that again anytime soon.

    Robert Parker

    November 24, 2018 at 9:25 PM

    • As you point out, I shouldn’t have been surprised that “multitudinous snout butterflies” is an original phrase. “Multitudinous” in its own right hardly appears multitudinous times, so the phrase already was off to a big head start. Your last sentence reminds me of Hamlet:

      “He was a man, take him for all in all,
      I shall not look upon his like again.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 24, 2018 at 9:41 PM

  3. That part of Texas is in the funnel of the butterfly migration. Nice!!


    November 25, 2018 at 5:50 AM

    • In a limited sample of hits, I see that the most online mentions of the “Texas tunnel” refer to monarch butterflies, and the second most to snout butterflies. For whatever reason, I didn’t see a lot of monarchs this season but I did see and continue to see plenty of snout butterflies. Either way, Austin lies in that tunnel, as you said.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2018 at 7:27 AM

  4. I don’t recall ever seeing a snout with any name, much less in multitudinous fashion. Reminds me: Do you still do the search compilation at the end of the year? The searches that land folks on your blog are even funnier than your no-hit wonder.

    When at the coast on T-giving, we saw thousands of monarchs clinging to brush to avoid the strong south wind. I’ve never seen such numbers on migration, only a handful or so in my yard at a time. It was magical! I included them in the last post.


    November 25, 2018 at 6:06 AM

    • What you say about many monarchs on the coast and few in your yard, along with my lack of seeing many monarchs in Austin this season, leads to the conjecture that they took a coastal route this year—unless many also went via west Texas, as we observed some years ago on our way to El Paso.

      I’m pleased that you remember those year-end compilations. They were fun and I spent lots of time on them gathering data throughout the year. I would have continued the tradition, but about four years ago WordPress stopped listing most search terms that had led people to my posts. Apparently Google stopped forwarding those search terms. You know how Google has continued to monopolize as much as it can. Like Facebook, it wants to control the whole world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2018 at 9:36 AM

  5. When I visited Kansas in the fall, the thistles were among the last of the flowers to hold a bloom, and there were several skippers per thistle. The most I was able to photograph at one time was six. Of course, the frostweed spreads a wider table, so it makes sense that more butterflies could gather there. The combination of the frostweed flowers and the butterflies is so pleasing. It doesn’t seem at all chaotic, which surprises me a little.

    ‘Snout’ as a word kept nagging at me, and I finally remembered an expression from my younger years. My father and his friends (though not my mother) would refer to someone who’d had a little too much alcohol as having a ‘snootful.’ It certainly does look as though these snouts are busy getting their snoots full.


    November 25, 2018 at 9:12 AM

    • I like the way you describe the frostweed flower heads as spreading a wider table. That expanse of blooms certainly makes it easier for lots of butterflies to descend on them than on thistles or other more solitary flowers (or flower heads).

      Thanks to your link, I learned that snoot originated as a Scottish variant of snout, and I’ve added another doublet to my list. No matter how many of them I accumulate, I never get too much of a snootful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2018 at 9:48 AM

  6. What a fantastic combination of butterflies and flowers, Steve. I am going to use “multitudinous snout butterflies” in a sentence sometime today to, I am sure, a delighted audience. 😄

    Jane Lurie

    November 25, 2018 at 3:38 PM

    • It was a happy combination of butterflies and flowers, to be sure. I’m not so sure an audience of yours will be delighted with the phrase “multitudinous snout butterflies,” but you’re welcome to give it a shot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2018 at 4:19 PM

  7. As with the experience you just posted, there was more than you bargained for here also. That’s a passel of snouts you found there.

    Steve Gingold

    November 26, 2018 at 2:00 PM

    • It’s good of you to draw the “more than I bargained for” parallel between the two posts, and also to offer up the phrase “passel of snouts,” for which Google turns up its nose and says “No results found.” I’m happy to find you well enough to be commenting.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 26, 2018 at 4:25 PM

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