Sunday, September 24, 2023

Summer Butterflies

Besides brightly colored wildflowers, the other thing I love about summer hikes is the abundance of butterflies.  These critters love flowers, and when the temps start to rise you'll always see them flitting amongst the blooms.

I already posted a bunch of butterfly pics in my Silver Star Mountain post but had a little collection of images from other various places I've hiked this summer.  I deemed these photos too good not to share, so here's a post solely dedicated to these lovely winged insects.

An orange beauty

In mid-July I hiked the Iron Mountain/Cone Peak loop in the Central Oregon Cascades.  Although this trail is best known for its prolific wildflower bloom, with wildflowers also come butterflies.  And boy did I hit the butterfly jackpot that day!

Posing on the flowers very nicely

By midday the beautiful winged insects were having a heyday, soaring in the sun and feeding on the blooms.  I spotted several varieties, but not knowing my butterfly species at all, I wasn't going to guess what I was photographing.

I think this may be a very colorful moth?

One thing I've learned, butterfly photography is hard.  Those suckers have a sixth sense.  I can sneak up to them and be super-quiet, but the minute I lifted the camera to my eye, they nearly always took off.

Loved this white butterfly

From several miscues, I learned half the battle is being prepared.  Before creeping up on my subject, I'd have my camera out, make sure the exposure and shutter speed were correct, and get my focus ready.  My camera also has a 1.6X crop factor setting, (providing a bit of extra zoom) which I began to take full advantage of.  After lots of practice, my capture rate and photo quality got much better.


One of the butterfly species I do recognize is the lovely yellow and black swallowtail.  Appearing around the official beginning of summer, these beauties can be found everywhere there are flowers.  Something I've recently learned - the swallowtail butterfly is the official state insect of Oregon (I also didn't know there was such a thing as a state insect!)

Butterflies seem to love yellow flowers

Swallowtail photographs are especially difficult to capture.  These buggers seem to know when you're after them, and take off the minute you get your focus locked.  But I've learned if they're after a favorite type of flower (such as the columbine) these butterflies will latch on and ignore everything around them.  That's probably the only reason I was able to get a few good shots of this elusive winged insect.

A very colorful moth (I think?)

The best part about photographing butterflies is they nearly always land on a flower - and who doesn't like both a beautiful butterfly and a colorful flower in the same image?

Another swallowtail - very hard to capture!

Although this post started out strictly about butterflies, I've expanded to include a couple of nice dragonfly photos I really liked.

Blue dragonfly

My neighbor Cheri and I visited a local garden store that sold items for home ponds and waterfalls.  In the numerous displays lived hundreds of dragonflies, and the insects didn't mind photographers in the least.  So here's a couple of my favorite images of these fascinating little helicopters.

A fiery orange dragonfly

Hope you've enjoyed my insect post!  Next up is a recap from a late spring trip to South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park.  Stay tuned - you won't want to miss it!


  1. ...I know and see swallowtails, but the others are new for me.

  2. You deemed right! Well worth sharing. The first "colorful moth" is a Painted Lady butterfly; we have it in the UK and I know it occurs in N America. The trick seems to be to find their favourite food plant and wait for them to appear. Kneeling down seems to help as they otherwise see your movement against the bright sky.

  3. Thanks for these. Lovely to see!

  4. Beautiful butterflies, lovely collection of photos. Take care, have a wonderful week!

  5. Stunning, Linda. Your patience and persistence were rewarded.

  6. Whata beautiful collection of butterflies. You are correct about capturing them, I sometimes get frustrated because I'm not quiet or fast enough but I keep on trying. :)

  7. Lovely little fairies! Oh, I mean butterflies and dragonflies.

  8. Beautiful! We didn't have near the usual amount of butterflies or bees this summer:(


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