Our guess is that there is a scat pile under all these butterflies! Butterflies often congregate and sip from spots that provide additional nutrients, minerals, and salts. That could be anything from carcasses to animal waste to mud puddles to moist soil.
This group is dominated by Northern Checkerspots, but we see one Lorquin’s Admiral and perhaps one other species. This is one of several species of checkerspot butterflies in western Montana. Checkerspots are generally medium-sized, larger than crescents, and have orange and black checkered uppersides. Their flight is fairly fast, direct and low. They are on the wing in our area from mid June to mid July in a wide variety of habitats, from woodland openings to sagebrush. The males are territorial perchers, often seen in paths or on rocks, and both sexes may be seen feeding on flower nectar, mud, dung, and ash. Caterpillars prefer asters, rabbitbrush and related plants.
Size: 1 3/8 – 1 7/8 inches (3.5 – 4.8 cm)
Photos by: Sara Bates on 7/22/22 in the Swartz Lake Primitive Area, Flathead Reservation, MT