January 16, 2023
Since Eliza Howell Park in Detroit is slowly getting recognized as a great place to see butterflies, this might be a good year to highlight some of the butterflies that can be found here, presenting them one species at a time.
It’s a long time until butterfly season in Michigan, but an early start is needed to include 23 species this year.
First in this series is American Lady.
American Lady is a medium-sized butterfly, with a wingspan of about 2 inches. It is present among the blooming flowers from mid-May through July, feeding on nectar. It is not exactly common, but it is definitely not rare. In Eliza Howell, I see them most frequently in July.
American Lady is striking, both with wings open and wings closed. The underwings, with the two eyespots and a pattern similar to a spider web, always catch my attention.
American Lady is found in much of the United States. It is unable to survive as an adult in the winter in the northern parts of its range. At least part of the early-season northern population results from a northward spring migration from southern states.
American Ladies are attracted to a variety of flowers in the park; the three included here are among their favorites. In July, there is a good chance of getting a good look at an American Lady by standing quietly by a patch of Purple Coneflowers.
Earlier in the season, before the coneflowers bloom, Red Clover is a favorite.
American Lady is neither rare nor well known. It is a great find, however, fascinating to watch. If someone has never met an American Lady, this might be the year to find the opportunity to see one.
The “23 Butterflies in 2023” series is not intended to include all the species sometimes found in the park.There are probably another 20 species that can be seen occasionally. It is, however, intended to highlight those most likely to be noticed by park visitors seeking butterflies.
All photos included in the series are from Eliza Howell Park and, unless otherwise indicated, were taken by the author.