Harvester, HENRY'S ELFIN, AND GOATWEED LEAFWING

Harvesters are uncommon butterflies. My only local sighting (the individual above and at left) was at Siebenthaler Fen on July 6, 2014. I also found several individuals near Hocking Hills (in eastern Ohio) in May 2018. 

The butterfly at left is even more uncommon than the Harvester. This is a Goatweed Leafwing, a rare southern stray to Ohio. I photographed this Goatweed Leafwing at Cox Arboretum on April 14, 2017. (Interestingly, a few days later I had my earliest ever sighting of a Monarch butterfly. I suspect that the same warm, southerly winds which blew the Monarchs into town early also brought this Goatweed Leafwing up from the south.) 

The Harvester is the only butterfly in North America with carnivorous larvae. Its caterpillars eat woolly aphids.

Henry's Elfin butterflies are not as uncommon as the two species above, although they are somewhat localized. In our area, Henry's Elfins use redbud trees as host plants. These tiny butterflies only fly for a few weeks in early spring, when their redbud trees are in bloom. Their flight period usually occurs in the latter half of April (or sometimes early May, if the weather was cold in April). 

Goatweed Leafwings are well-camouflaged amongst dead leaves ... until they open their beautiful red-orange wings. This individual was very skittish and kept landing on the ground briefly and then flying away into the trees. It required almost an hour of patient stalking before I got these few photos. But I would have waited all afternoon if necessary for the rare opportunity to see a Goatweed Leafwing. 

Look for Henry's Elfins near established groves of redbud trees. Twin Creek MetroPark, Germantown MetroPark, and Cox Arboretum are three good locations to find these tiny butterflies.