Butterflies - The Gossamer Wings
( Originally Published 1917 )
The daintiest and most delicate of all our butterflies are included among the Gossamer-wings. Their bodies are small and slender, their antennae ringed with white and almost threadlike, their wings thin and of exquisite beauty. Many of them are marked with the slenderest of tailed projections from the hind wings. When the face is viewed from in front it is seen to be much narrower than its height. At the insertion of the antennae the eyes are notched, and they are also more or less surrounded with white scales. Most of the caterpillars have oval, slug-shaped, smooth bodies, with the under surface flattened, and very small which in many species can be extended by means of an extensile neck. The chrysalids are held in place by silken threads both at the tail and over the middle, They are rounded, short, and stout.
Notwithstanding their small size, the Gossamer wings are among the most spritely of all our butterflies. They seem indeed winged sprites, playing everywhere, in fields and open woods, along roads, lanes, and brooks, in door yards and gardens wherever, in fact, a bit of open space invites their presence. Not alone upon the wing but even when at rest does their liveliness appear. For most of these butterflies have the curious habit of keeping the hind wings in motion after alighting, rubbing them against each other in a vertical plane or "moving them backward and forward when half expanded." These habits are so fixed that when one sees a butterfly thus engaged one can pretty certainly conclude it is a member of this family.
The Gossamer wings are commonly scparated into three rather distinct tribes the Hair streaks, the Coppers, and the Blues. The characteristic features are these:
Three branches arising from the radius of each front wing. Under surface of hind wing commonly marked with threadlike streaks: the Hair-streaks.
Four branches arising from the radius of each front wing. Under surface of hind wing commonly marked with spots rather than lines.
Colors brownish red : The Coppers. Colors blue: The Blues.