Between the rainy days and the warming weather my yard has gotten to a point that would give a Home Owners Association a coronary. But that’s okay. The bees and butterflies are loving the extra bloom to feed on. I had been surveying the landscape for any sign of an increase in the honeybee population when one of the flowers suddenly sprung to life and lifted into the air. I have seen the little white butterflies before and although they’re pretty I presumed that I was seeing a cabbage looper. A hungry creature that destroys gardens. But, as often happens when we presume I was wrong. What I was seeing wasn’t even a moth much less one that is after our beloved veggies. This is the West Virginia White!( Pieris virginiensis.) While this ghostly little butterfly bares the name of my home state it’s found all over the Appalachian Mountains and up into Canada. And, it’s only interested in hosting on one plant. The toothwort is host of choice for the West Virginia White. However, I have learned that an invasive plant known as Garlic Mustard somehow confuses the little West Virginia White and that the larvae can’t survive on them.
I followed the adult for several minutes and she seem to prefer my ground ivy. She meticulously inspected each little tubular bloom and even seemed to groom them by fluttering her wings over a plant and then coming back to it after it had a chance to sweeten it’s nectar.
There wasn’t a whole lot information on Wikipedia that was specific to the West Virginia White. But they did say that the female wings absorb ultraviolet light while the male wings reflect ultraviolet light.
It’s kinda hard to tell if the wings have a blue tint in the photos because I use a lens filter that blocks UV but to my naked eye there wasn’t a blue tint visible except for on the body so I believe this one is a female.
A lot of the photos I took turned out with motion blur. That’s pretty common with a subject that’s deceptively quick and agile. She danced around in the air so easily that for a moment I wanted to believe that I’d encountered a fairy.
I was pretty intrigued and followed her all over the yard until she crossed my creek and sailed out of reach of my long lens. But, now that I know that they’re on the property maybe I’ll be able to get more shots of her another day.
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