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Old 06-14-2016, 06:26 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
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Of course the darn thing flew off while I was in the house getting a camera, so I don't have a photo. Dang.

Northeast Florida. Two night ago (6/13/16). It was evening, sun was almost set - just a little bit of light left. We've had very hot and humid days and nights lately with very little rain. In a shade garden (philodendrons, ferns, cast iron plans, a few African Irises that rarely bloom). It was clinging upside down on the leaf of an African Iris. Its wings had a bit of a curl around the edges and were not open flat - very much reminded me of how Monarch wings look right after first emerging from their chrysalises while they're in the process of pumping them up.

I didn't even know it was a butterfly until I went to grab what I thought was a yellow leaf stuck to the Iris blade. I wish I had gone to get my camera right then and there, but I finished my weeding first.

It was very big - if its wings had been fully open I'd estimate a wingspan of 5-6". Since its wings were together, all I could see were the undersides which were entirely bright butter-yellow with a few tiny vague black/brown random dots. There may have been very narrow black/brown edging along the wings, but it was difficult to see since the wings were a bit curled and not nice and flat. Because its body was on the underside of the leaf, I couldn't really see it, especially because there wasn't a lot of light.

I've been scouring photos on the internet and my books looking for this butterfly. It appears somewhat similar to a Phoebis agarithe, giant sulphur, but definitely more butter-yellow than orange (at least on its undersides), and much larger than descriptions give.

I haven't seen this butterfly since. Believe me if I do I will immediately stop what I'm doing and get a camera. Beautiful thing! Just wish I knew what it was!
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Old 06-14-2016, 06:31 AM
 
Location: S. FL (hell for me-wife loves it)
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My first thought was the giant sulphur too, but you mentioned curled wings. I wish it was not night time when you saw it, because after reading your entire description, you have me leaning towards a giant swallowtail...

Suphurs flit very quickly in daylight hours, you can barely see them and very hard to photograph, hope you can get a pic of your butterfly in daytime hours

I have them (swallows) come through twice a year down here in SW Fl. But you didn't mention anything about seeing the famous 'tail.'

Anyway, I will be reading your thread and hope to find out the answer. We love butterfly gardening.

Last edited by TerraDown; 06-14-2016 at 07:52 AM..
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
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No, I didn't see any tail. The edges, though slightly curled inward, were smooth. The condition of the wings made it look a bit "puffy", and it was hard to see the split between the forewings and hindwings. Wings gave a round form, not pointed at any place.

Based on the wing shape I could detect, I'd say it's from the pieridae family, and probably some kind of sulphur.

It looked like this except "puffy":
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barlov...ico/2204496293
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:16 AM
 
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I don't live in Florida, so I am not familiar with your insects. But since you mentioned it was almost nighttime, I am wondering if it was actually a moth? We get some gigantic, gorgeous moths, even here in NJ. I love moths and butterflies.
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Lafayette, LA
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You're absolutely sure it was yellow? Could it have been a Luna Moth? I'm reading that they can vary in color from seafoam green to yellow. They do tend to be seen more at night.
And they're enormous. Very beauriful.

Dang, too bad you didn't get a picture!
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:37 AM
 
Location: S. FL (hell for me-wife loves it)
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Lori and Pug make a good point, as an afterthought I also said to myself, 'a moth?'

And the fact that you mentioned 'puffy, hanging upside down,' it could be pumping blood through it's wings and
getting ready to fly, a new moth.
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
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I was also at first thinking moth rather than butterfly. But generally moths don't fold up their wings like butterflies do. BUT I've never seen a new moth, so perhaps their wings are folded while they're expanding them in a similar fashion as butterflies.

Yes, even with the low light, I'm positive it was bright butter-yellow. My fingers were within an inch of it thinking it was a yellowed leaf from a nearby tree or bush. Once so close I realized it wasn't a leaf, and I hesitated not knowing at first what it was (we do have icky bright yellow fungus stuff in a "splatter" on the ground sometimes - yellow slime mold called "dog vomit fungus" by some :-)

Luna moths are gorgeous and I'd love to see one! But my mystery guy didn't have any kind of tail.

I created two new big gardens this year purposely to attract the 3Bs (birds, bees, butterflies). There are many flowering plants now in the ground, but not a ton of blooms yet since they're just getting established in their new home. (The gardens are that new.) Hopefully soon there will be a smorgasbord of nectar plants. Working next to plant many different kinds of host plants for a variety of butterflies (so far only have dill for swallowtails and milkweed for monarchs).

I have a lot of lantanas (different colors, different varieties) which apparently attract different kinds of butterflies. Hopefully the mystery guy will dine often on them?
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:26 AM
 
Location: S. FL (hell for me-wife loves it)
3,175 posts, read 1,991,722 times
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After doing a Google image search, the first few lines of yellow moths do remind one of a fallen leaf...could it be one of these species?
https://www.google.com/search?site=&...24.eMSZkt7WfzA
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:54 AM
 
Location: NC
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My thought was Luna moth as well. And the low sun may have emphazised the color making a pale yellow appear more intense. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...%20luna%20moth
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Under the Redwoods
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If it was hanging upside down under a leaf, and had puffy curled wings, this was for sure a newly emerged lepidop. It was in the final stages of its wings unfolding and hardening.

As for the fashion of the wings, there are a few moths that do not have the typical 'tent' fold. One easy and for sure way to determine the diffefence between moth and butterfly is the antenna. Butterflies are always slim and smooth. Like an old car antenna. Moths will have a variety of fuzzy or feathery shapes.

My first thought was tiger swallowtail, a female, but stripes would have made it obvious of what it was. Sounds possibly like a Sulpher, but they are not quite that large. Perhaps a Heliconian.
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