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Western Meadow Fritillary (Boloria epithore)

 

Western Meadow Fritillary -- Photo  Chris Carvalho/Lensjoy.com

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The brilliant orange color of this butterfly is a pleasant surprise in mountain meadows.  Western Meadow Fritillaries (Boloria epithore) are easy to find after the weather warms and flowers bloom in mid-spring.  All one needs to do is be willing to go for a hike in the meadows on a sunny day and this small butterfly, only an inch and a half across, will be there to reward one's efforts.  

Butterflies often engage in a behavior called "basking" shown in this photo.  It is a way of soaking up the sun and warming the insect's blood which circulates through veins in the wings.  When a cloud passes overhead, a basking butterfly's wings instantly snap shut to conserve heat.  

Butterflies are rapidly vanishing from the places near our homes.  I recall when moving to Oregon that my suburban neighborhood had far fewer butterflies than the semi-rural area where I used to live.  That town has grown too, and my mom told me recently that they don't see many butterflies there either.  Our children are growing up in a world where the sight of a butterfly is becoming increasingly rare.  What can we do?  

There are lots of ways to encourage butterflies in our neighborhoods.  Limit insecticide use to areas where it's absolutely needed.  Try non-toxic methods of insect control, such as soap-based sprays.  Plant native plants in a portion of your yard, and devote a small area to wild plants (what we call "weeds" are often wild food plants that caterpillars feed on.)  We don't have to let weeds take over the yard, but having a few around is a small price to pay for the beauty that butterflies bring.  Borrow a book on butterfly gardening from the library and grow plants in the garden that are beneficial for butterflies in your area.  Keep streams and wetlands free of pollution, as butterflies often drink water from creeks and ponds.  Work with local government and landowners to encourage natural open spaces in your area.  The key here is "natural", community parks that are paved or planted with non-native vegetation do not provide butterfly habitat.  For a list of plants for attracting butterflies to your garden in the Portland, Oregon area and Columbia Gorge, click here.  

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Info:  Chromira digital print of Provia 100F 35mm slide
 

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