Butterfly sighting

Sep 1 2013

Dan Belter

Location: Big Eau Pleine County Park, located in the south-central part of Marathon County
Marathon County

I was looking for shorebirds along the reservoir that borders the park. The reservoir is slowly being drawn down, so I had plenty of beach area to hike on to a spot where I have seen shorebirds in the past. While looking for shorebirds, I saw a butterfly flying around me that at first I thought was a Viceroy, but when it landed about 8 to 10 feet from me, something didn't look right for it to be a Viceroy. I put my binoculars on it (Swarovski 10x42, close focus to 6 feet), and I knew it was something different, and a new butterfly that I have never seen before. What struck me the most was the orange in the front wings with black markings. The wing tips were black with white spots. The hind wing was also black with white spots running down the entire length to a black area on the back wing, which was also marked with white spots. Like I said, I knew for sure this was a new butterfly for me, one that I have never seen before. I know many of the more common butterflies, so later in the afternoon I called my friend Mary Backus, who is an avid butterfly observer here in Marathon County, to ask her about what I saw. I also went page by page through the only butterfly field guide I have (Kaufman's Field Guide to Butterflies of North America), and the only butterfly I can come up with is a female Regal Fritillary. The habitat I saw this butterfly in is all wrong from where it should be. It was flying along the beach area of the drawn down reservoir, with heavy forest cover along the edges. I'm thinking with the strong west winds we have had with some recent storms this past week, including the storm in the early morning hours of Sept. 1, 2013 (today), that this might have blown in the butterfly? I did not get any photos as I don't own any high quality cameras (like what Mary has), so I did not get any photos.

☆ = New county sighting record