Northern Metalmark Calephelis borealis

A dark jewel of a butterfly on the inside. Locally rare anywhere but it is colonial so one leads on to another. Generally scattered locations. Uses Senecio obovatum, the Round-leaved Ragwort, for its caterpillar foodplant. Many think exclusively. And only near limestone or shale outcrops. The plant far outnumbers the butterfly. This plant has a blooming peak in early spring. The adult butterfly appears well past the height of the blooming period. So look near shale or rocky areas with stands of this plant and this is your best bet. Find the plant in spring and come back in June in the afternoon. Currently at least ten colony areas are known in Arkansas as of 2012.

Has a floppy moth-like flight. And like a moth it often pitches underneath leaves and lands upside down. Rarely perches with wings closed to expose that striking orange and aluminum flecked exterior. One of my favorite butterflies.

Another individual, this one from the Sharp County site. Note the dark band within the inner metal band. This is much darker than in the Swamp Metalmark. Listed as having only one brood in Glassberg's butterfly guide but appears to have a second brood in Arkansas and Missouri. The second brood is much lighter and can be mistaken for the Swamp.

I think it is scratching an itch near the ear. Not sure. Highly entertaining anyway. Shows the impressive exterior colors. From the Bell Slough colony.

The rarest pose for this species. Kind of makes you stop breathing for a minute doesn't it?

And Rose's really fine exterior from the new colony she found in Marion county. Fresh posterior hindwing edges.

Lessons learned. This is a fall brood female. And it is much more of a Swamp mimic than the spring brood. From Wildwood in Little Rock in August of 2002.

What can I say? The only one I have ever seen on a milkweed. And the striking Asclepias variegata at that. Kind of the reason we carry cameras around in the first place. A bee fly and a flower beetle thrown in for interest.

Obviously an adult pair doing the universal dance in a spider web. I believe Tom mentioned that he rescued them after getting this shot. Taken at the Bell Slough colony site. Female is left.

And a pairing from the Marion county colony the day after Rose found it from Robert. Female likely top.

A stunning top shot from David, also at the Marion colony in May. Compare directly with the below Swampy. Wow. Decide which features are important for yourself. I am not sure anyone has had these kind of shots for direct comparison. I think this pattern is always female in the Northern.

And finally, a spring Metalmark that I believe is a Swamp Metalmark. These can be disconcertingly difficult to tell apart, though I think in spring the Northern is much less likely to produce individuals that have almost no dark inner patching. Also the metallic alignment on the ventral (see below shot) is convincingly muticum. My personal favorite characteristic that needs verification is the drift outward of the inner metallic band on the hindwing upper (shown here) so that the two metal lines tend to come together. I don't think any of my Northern individuals pinch this closely. Shot taken May 28, 2007 at the Harold Alexander WMA in Sharp county Arkansas.

And the underside which I think is much easier to differentiate, and much harder to get a shot of. Note the three dash marks that are central on the forewing inner metal band. They are very misaligned with the overall band. I don't have any Northerns this disparate and out of line.