It is hard to look manly prancing through a meadow, net in hand, chasing a butterfly as I did as a student at Morehead State University. Don’t think this was a daily occurrence, as it only happened once when we were trying to collect specimens for our insect collections in Invertebrate Zoology class.
I was reminded of this two summers ago when I was chasing this common buckeye butterfly through a field of ironweed in a beautiful area of Morgan County, Kentucky called Woodsbend. Except it was less prancing and more hobbling. Carrying a camera instead of a net was probably not any more manly looking either.
The order of butterflies and moths is called lepidoptera. This is the only order I remember from that class and only because our professor told us that butterflies burst out of their cocoons and “lepid” up off the ground. Apparently there is an advantage to having a PhD.
This particular butterfly must have sucked down the nectar from a flower that was doused with the fifth can of Red Bull some teen-ager could not finish due to his sudden tachycardia. I chased it for thirty minutes before it lit on this ironweed plant.
In this part of eastern Kentucky, fields of ironweed indicate that summer is about over and fall is coming. Ironweed plants are difficult to photograph. The true color is hard to capture. It takes a dimmer overcast day to capture the true deep purple of the blooms.
Photographing butterflies, on the other hand, just takes someone who is in denial about their ability to maneuver strappingly through a meadow.
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