It was, today, beautiful -- sunny, breezy, warm-not-hot. Rough blazing star is now in full bloom, making the sandy prairie areas at the beach just lovely.
Here, resting in a sheltered area among them, is a viceroy. You can tell the difference between the two both by the smaller size -- which is subjective but was what actually gave it away on this one -- and by the pattern on the lower wings. The viceroy has a black line that runs consistently across the middle of them (faint but present in this specimen); the monarch does not. The viceroy is well known for being a mimic of the monarch, capitalizing on the fact that monarchs, from munch-munch-munching on milkweed, taste nasty to predators. It's commonly used as an example in learning about adaptations... but it turns out, the viceroy is pretty bad-tasting itself. Its larval host plant is the willow, which is filled with a delicious chemical called acetylsalicylic acid... also found in aspirin, which is about how it tastes. Delish!
And speaking on milkweed munchers... here's another. The milkweed tossock moth, as an adult, is kind of a plain and boring grayish moth. But as a caterpillar, it is fuzzy and at least somewhat colorful. These two here were the second and third I've seen this week.
It was very wavy today!