Monday, April 5, 2010

A visit to Bass Creek Recreation Area, just south of Florence, Montana (foot of the Bitterroot Mountains) provided early spring color in the form of Compton tortoiseshell (Nymphalis vaualbum). This butterfly is a member of the Nymphalidae family (5,000 species worldwide), some of the world’s most eye-catching butterflies. The upper side of the wing is very colorful while the underside is cryptically colored for camouflage. Tortoiseshells, in particular, are known their fast and erratic flight. This species is identified by white spots on both the forewing and hindwing. Adults hibernate over winter in tree crevices or logs. Compton tortoiseshell habitat consists of openings and edges of forest. Aspen, birch and willow are important foodplants for larvae. Range maps indicate this species is somewhat restricted to northwest Montana.
Already (?) second butterfly species of year! Have you seen any yet?