Friday, June 4, 2010

Pretty picture: Vanessa atalanta

We went to Iowa City on Wednesday, and I took lots and lots of pictures of various things, which is cool, because it means I won't have to worry about possible things to blog about for a really long time, but it also means that I won't have time to write about those things because I will be so busy sorting pictures. (Seriously. The present estimate is that I have a backlog of ~1700 photos to select, color-adjust, crop, and resize right now. Many of those are duplicates of one another, but that's still a solid 300-400 rounds of photo-sorting before I'm caught up.)

Anyway. So I managed to get a picture of this happy little guy,1 on a NOID Buddleia where I used to work, which is notable for me mostly because it's unusual for a butterfly to stick around long enough for me to get out the camera and fumble through the settings and take a picture. But also it's pretty. The species is Vanessa atalanta, or "red admiral," something I know because I looked it up in a book.2 Which was actually kind of a weird experience.3


1 Or maybe not. I mean, how would you be able to tell if a butterfly were depressed? Or female, for that matter? (Yes, I know the answer to the second question would be sexual dimorphism, but as far as I can determine, red admiral males and females have the same shape and coloration, so that doesn't help us here.)
2 The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies; I have a collection of about 15-20 of the Audobon Society guides, dating from when I was a kid and would save up my money to buy them, or ask for them for my birthday, or whatever. (I don't know how much they actually were, then, nor do I know how much they are now. But to my seven-year-old self they were extremely valuable and precious, as it was a considerable sacrifice to get one on my own.)
3 "Books" are sort of like, um, imagine that you printed out a bunch of pages from the internet, and then had somebody bind them together inside of a hard, durable covering of some kind. A page can then be physically turned over with your fingers when you're finished reading one, to read the next one, instead of clicking on "Next Page" at the bottom of the screen. Compared to the internet, books use less power, function without batteries or recharging, still work during power outages, and pose a much smaller risk of identity theft, but: the information in them is never updated, they're more difficult to search, and you can't "tweet," "friend," "digg," or "like" the information in them.


Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Very, very cool photo!

Don said...

So the Red Admiral's real name consists of two girls' names put together. I wonder if butterflies suffer from gender identity crises?

Your third footnote reminds me of this clip:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful butterfly!

Ivynettle said...

Haha, yes, getting pictures of butterflies can be a pain! But they're so pretty, we just have to try, right?