Almost as soon as I arrived I found a couple of Painted Ladies fluttering above the flowers, although they wouldn’t land. I spent some time walking around the ponds, checking the flowers, though there weren’t as many butterflies as I was hoping to find – perhaps two dozen in all, which is still a fantastic number! Before I found any butterflies to photograph, however, I found something even more interesting – a dark striped flower fly (or hover fly) on Queen Anne’s Lace. It was a Black-shouldered Drone Fly, a species I had seen at the South March Highlands earlier this spring. I didn’t get a great photo then, so I was happy that it cooperated long enough to get a few photos as it fed on the nectar of the flowers.
The dark area at the base of the wings is distinctive, and extends to the pterostigma – this is noticeable in the below photo.
I also saw a Monarch feeding on some asters in the same area. While I was photographing this one, two more flew by the same area! It’s been a good fall for seeing these iconic butterflies.
I decided to walk all the way around the channel, as there were more flowers on the western side where I rarely go. There I found some large clumps of asters in bloom – and several Painted Ladies feeding on them.
Other Painted Ladies were enjoying the goldenrod in bloom. I believe the minuscule dark beetles above and to the right of the butterfly are Shining Flower Beetles, exceptionally small beetles that feed on the pollen of composite flowers late in the summer.
This Monarch was feeding on some asters with an unidentified flower fly next to it (look close at the top leg where it is resting on the flower).
I am not sure if this is the same one in the photo with the Monarch, or even what kind it is; identifying it will be a project for this winter!
Another Painted Lady feeding among the asters shows off its gorgeous wings. According to the Butterflies of Canada website, Painted Ladies lack of blue centres in the eyespots on the upper hindwing, which differentiates them from American Ladies. While this one has no blue in the row of black spots near the bottom hindwing, the butterflies shown above do have blue in the black spots. It seems this is not a reliable field mark for separating the two species.
I was surprised to see this fresh-looking female Bronze Copper still flying at the ponds. She was resting on some Smartweed (Polygonum sp.); the beautiful pale pink colours of the flowers contrasting with the orange of her wings make this one of my favourite Bronze Copper photos to date!
Another Black-shouldered Drone Fly was feeding on the Jerusalem Artichoke growing close to the southern pond.
This Monarch was sitting on a goldenrod plant long enough to take several photos.
I added a new species of lady beetle to my list of bugs at the Eagleson ponds when I noticed this tiny lady bug on a leaf. It looked about half the size of an Asian lady beetle, with one large spot in the center of each wing surrounded by a couple of smaller spots along the lower edge. It turns out that this is a Variegated Lady Beetle, a species I once saw in my own yard (although that one looked quite different). The Variegated Lady Beetle has variable spotting on elytra (the hardened pair of upper wings), which explains why this one looked different from the one in my yard.
It was great to see so many insect species still flying even though the season is definitely starting to wane. The butterflies made it worth the visit; it’s amazing how many stop over to visit the ponds before continuing their journey south, and how many species now call the ponds their home!