Posted on

Red-Spotted Purple


With a title like that I bet you were expecting red spots, weren’t you? Well, they are there, but hidden on the underside of this large butterfly’s wings.  I’ll try to photograph one with his wings raised so I can show you how pretty they are. Hopefully you  share my delight in this side of things as well. I love this dramatic black butterfly with its electric blue markings. The larval food for these butterflies is the black cherry tree. I’ve never seen an adult get nectar on flowers~I only ever see them hanging out on trees. I suspect they get sustenance from sap, as do Mourning Cloaks and a few others.

I started this painting 2 weeks ago, but have been busy with a commission, so I finished him today while sitting outside for a classic car show going on in our town. I had no delusions that anyone there for the cars would be interested in paintings of butterflies, but  I did think it would be fun to sit out there and admire the classics and it was. We had a dragster (Do I have that right?) start up to drive away~my, was it loud! Most impressive.

Yesterday I attended a meeting for a new artist coalition forming in my little town. This is exciting news. We’ll have painters, a circus performer, jazz musicians, and authors. How cool is that? I never thought Grayslake was capable of such coolness 🙂

Posted on

Pearl Crescent

Pearl Crescent

Melissa Blue Fine Art

These little butterflies are quite zippy and skittish. I see them fluttering low along the trail and moving restlessly from flower to flower. When I began monitoring, in Peoria, they were quite plentiful but up here they aren’t as numerous. It is interesting how digital photos can see right through layers of paint~this week’s image is a case in point and I have to say, a bit disappointing. I almost didn’t post it but then I didn’t want to lose my momentum of a a butterfly a week 🙂




Posted on

Eastern-tailed Blue

EAstern-tailed blueMelissa Blue Fine Art

I’m partial to these small powdery blue butterflies. I saw this little fellow along the trail at St. Francis Wood in Libertyville. They are similar to spring azures, but much easier to study as they will settle down for you. Azures are very skittish, in my experience, and difficult to sneak up on.

The little tails off the hind wing resemble antennae. In fact, when at rest or nectaring, eastern-tailed blues rub their hind wings together so it looks like the “antennae” are moving. This confuses predators long enough to allow the insect to escape in the other direction. It seems to work for them, as I have often seen them with a beak-shaped holes in their wings where the tails used to be. I’ve painted this one a bit larger than life.

Posted on

Spangled Fritillary


Great spangled fritillaries are the cheetahs of the butterfly world~orange streaks of energy flashing past as you walk along. As you can see here, they do stop to fuel up at monarda blossoms, and that gave me my chance for a photograph.

Twenty years ago, if you drove for any distance in Illinois your radiator and windshield would be fairly covered with, I’m sorry to say, dead bugs. Today, you’ll have almost none. I’m seeing very few butterflies of any species when I go for walks now. They re still there, thankfully, just in reduced numbers. They could come back, if we have the will to change. What will we choose to do? Will we stand up to Monsanto in time? Do we need a new book, this time about Roundup and the chemical soup we create when we apply pesticides? Yes, it is farms. But it is municipal agencies doing mosquito abatement. It is homeowners, spraying for grubs and dandelions. You can’t see chemicals, so it is easy to forget they are there. But they, or their break-down residues, linger far longer than the companies want you to know.  And they combine with other chemicals to create ever more toxic brews in our soils and water. It would be one thing if it even worked but guess what-it doesn’t! We still have dandelions and mosquitoes. But we are losing so much else.

What do you choose?