Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Those little blue butterflies

This time of year we often have people asking us about the little blue butterflies they see nectaring at the milk vetch in the Sanctuary. The good news for a non-specialist like me is that I can honestly tell you that they are Blues.

Blues are members of the subfamily Polyommatinae, which consists of... well, little blue butterflies.

The bad news for a non-specialist like me is that are several different species of little blue butterflies found in our area.

However, based on the time of year, the pattern of spots I see on the ventral (under) side of the wings, and a cruise through my Alberta Butterflies book I'm going to tentatively hazard a guess that these particular little blue butterflies are Silvery Blues (Glaucopsyche lygdamus). This particular Blue was a male. Female Blues are generally much less blue.

If any of you true butterfly people out there can correct my identification, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below.

On the non-butterfly side of things, I noticed that our Bladderworts are in full flower. Excuse the poor photo -- they were sort of hard to get to.

Bladderworts are interesting aquatic plants that float just below the surface most of the time, but hold their flowers up out of the water. They float with the help of little bladders (that's the origin of the unusual name of the plant) which also function as traps for small aquatic invertebrates. Yes, these lovely yellow flowers belong to a carnivore.