It is the perfect time of year to appreciate the Rio Grande Valley’s astonishing diversity of beautiful butterflies. Richard Moore takes us out into the ranch country of Starr County just as the winged insects are awakening.
An ethereal fog hovers over thick brush of western Valley ranchlands as persistent low clouds mask a distant sunrise. Breaking free of the obscuring shroud, bright sunshine floods the chilly canopy revealing a dragonfly perched high atop a lofty mesquite.
Far below, clinging to a grassy stalk, this snout butterfly awaits warming rays while surrounded by sparkling droplets of dew.
Throughout brush land insects begin soaking in sun. Perched on a thorny cactus this dragonfly starts to stir, slowly at first with a shiver of gossamer wing, and then as its body warms the creature takes flight.
Butterflies are bountiful, and this blooming crucillo appears to quiver with hundreds of snouts breakfasting on wonderfully fragrant white flowers.
A sheltered sendero bursts forth-rich orange blooms of lantana glittering with morning dew. Queen butterflies flock to the flowery offering, as do Gulf fritillaries opening and closing their wings in rhythmic symmetry while nectaring on blossoms of similar hue to their glistening wings.
Even dragonflies seem attracted to myriad lantana flowers, and what better place to touch down between predatory flights of fly catching patrol.
Perched nearby is a tropical leafwing that appears content to leisurely bask in the sun before lifting off to join the morning breakfast club.