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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - October 10, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Bright yellow butterfly in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mike Quinn

QUESTION:

What is the name of the small bright yellow butterfly that is dancing all over Austin at this time of year?

ANSWER:

Well, Mr. Smarty Plants' expertise isn't really in identifying insects, but Mr. SP has some great friends who ARE experts.  I contacted Mike Quinn, who is the president of the Austin Butterfly Forum and Invertebrate Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  Here are the species he told me that are about now:

Little yellows (Pyrisitia lisa) are the ones in largest numbers right now.  Here are more photos.

There are a few Sleepy orange (Abaeis nicippe) about and here are more photos.  

There are also some Southern dogface (Zerene cesonia), however they are a bit large for what you are seeing, I think. 

There are also a few Cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae) still about.  Here are more photos.

Here are a couple of guides that Mike recommended:

1.  Butterflies Through Binoculars, The West
Jeffrey Glassberg, 2001.
Oxford University Press, Oxford. 384 pp.

2. Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)
Jim P. Brock & Kenn Kaufman. 2003. 2006.
Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 384 pp.
 

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