October 2 – American Snout

I was in the back yard photographing butterflies on some asters.  It’s about the only thing left in bloom.  There were a bazillion skippers about, but I was more interested in the red admirals.  I hadn’t seen one in awhile. 

Red admiral on New England Aster Common Buckeye on White Heath Aster.

I couldn’t resist the buckeye, even though they’ve been abundant all summer.  As I was observing the scene, I noticed a colorful butterfly that didn’t match anything common.  On closer inspection, I was delighted to find it was an American Snout, Libytheana bachmanii.  It’s the only member of the family Libytheidae we have.  I hadn’t seen one in three years.  Apparently, they don’t overwinter in Missouri, so we probably only see them near the end of the summer when they’ve made it this far north.  Sometimes they migrate in large numbers down south.  In any case, I was happy to see it, especially with my good camera and long lens in hand. 

American Snout, ventral view American Snout, dorsal view

On the left, you can readily see the proverbial snout.  This condition is how you normally see them–wings shut.  On the right, you see the open wings, which I was fortunate to record.  Also visible is the true nature of the snout, made of two parts–mouthparts actually.  The adaptive value of the snout is debatable, but it does resemble a leaf petiole, so that if the butterfly hangs upside-down from a twig it is difficult to see.

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