I spent most of the afternoon cleaning my Prius - inside and out.
I washed, then rinsed with an open hose, leaving puddles in my driveway. As I moved away from the passenger side of the car to turn off the hose, I noticed a black and blue butterfly flitting around the puddles. I opened the door to the back seat and grabbed my little SONY Cybershot, but the butterfly wouldn't let me get close enough for a diagnostic photo.
So I went into the house and grabbed my Canon SLR with an image stabilized 100-400 zoom lens. The butterfly posed and I got the angles I needed for identification.
My first thought was - Black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail or Spicebush Swallowtail. But I didn't see a "tail." I had to look it up on on the new "Wisconsin butterflies" iPod app. It was a Red Spotted Purple.
The caterpillar of this brushfooted butterfly resembles bird droppings (as does its chrysalis). The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of poplars, willows, wild cherry and basswood (all common in my neighborhood).
The adults feed on rotted fruit, sap, mud, dung and carrion.
They have two broods a summer and the first adults appear in Wisconsin at the end of May. This one was right on time.
If you see (and/or photograph) butterflies, report what you see on the Wisconsin Butterflies website.