Commonly Uncommon

This common alpine butterfly is anything but, at least in my experience. I can’t remember seeing one before yet in the space of three days I’ve seen several of them in separate places.

I found the first one on our gravel road, one of its hind wings so badly damaged it couldn’t fly. Unlike many butterflies its distinctive markings made it easy to identify.

Common alpine

The one in the featured photo on this post was a lucky shot—it paused to feed just long enough for me to snap the shutter then it was off. The others I’ve seen have been on the wing, fluttering and flitting and seldom pausing.

Common? Perhaps. Uncommonly beautiful? For sure. 🙂

Common alpine   Erebia episodea


8 thoughts on “Commonly Uncommon

  1. If these are migratory, is it possible that they simply haven’t been through your area before? or only occasionally? Robins are like that for us. Some years we don’t see a single one, and in the years they do make an appearance, it’s often great clouds of them for only two or three days — probably long enough to strip the food from the bushes and trees.

    The genus name rang a bell — reminded me of a poem by about the loss of the ship named Erebus: northwest passage, I believe. I found that “erebus” denotes the place of darkness between Earth and Hades, and the name was given to the genus because of the butterflies’ dark colors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I may chalk up the never-before-seen to not having paid attention. 🙂 Apparently they are not migratory (at least according to the sources I consulted.)

      Yes, Erebus was one of two fated ships commanded by Sir John Franklin—the second was the Terror. The expedition left England in 1845 with Captain Franklin and a crew of 128; they were lost in the Northwest Passage. HMS Erebus was found in 1845 and Terror in 2016.

      The fight over who retained ownership of the wrecks has gone on for some time. Last year Britain transferred ownership jointly to Canada and the Inuit.


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