Georgia Insects

Visiting an unfamiliar region yields a plethora of new wildlife species to discover. Here are a dozen insect species we came upon recently while adventuring in the State of Georgia.

In many places in the northern hemisphere, the weather in October brings increasingly cold weather and less insects. But in the southern states the cold weather is often not as extreme or as long-lasting.

Last month in southeast Georgia, it was in the Fahrenheit 80s and 90s (27-32 Celsius) and insects were still abundant.

Butterflies are one of our planet’s most decorated insects, and the numerous species in Georgia did not disappoint.

The Gulf Fritillary, photographed above, appeared often, lighting on a variety of flowers. Like so many butterflies, the markings on the dorsal (top) side and the ventral (underside) are different, boasting two unique looks on the same individual.

Another exotic southern butterfly is the Zebra Longwing.

I have seen this species in Texas and Florida on previous trips, and was delighted to find about a dozen of them fluttering among the weeds behind the Dairy Queen. I’ve read they roost in groups of up to 60 at night, for protection.

The insect I was most fascinated with on this trip was the Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper. They have unusually pointy heads and long, thin bodies, much like a toothpick.

One day I had the joy of watching this grasshopper species in the marsh grass. I was walking along the dock when I noticed one effortlessly sail from one thin marsh reed to another. I was mesmerized as it danced across the reeds and out of sight.

Dragonflies, like butterflies, are insects that offer a kaleidoscope of bright colors and interesting markings. Add to that their compound eyes and shimmery wings, and you have one of Earth’s masterpieces.

We were spotting birds at a stagnant-looking pond covered with duckweed, when this flamboyant pink dragonfly, below, greeted us. A roseate skimmer.

Then minutes after the Roseate Dragonfly visit, a Roseate Spoonbill flew overhead. What a rosy day.

While on a boat tour in the Okefenokee Swamp, this Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly, below, kept landing next to my feet. The boat was fiberglass with a flat bottom, and I cannot imagine the dragonfly particularly liked the fiberglass. So maybe she liked the boat’s vibration, or maybe she just felt like hitching a ride.

Other Georgia dragonflies that greeted us were the Eastern Amberwing with its dazzling gossamer red wings…

… and the dashing blue dasher.

One day for about five minutes, this handsome grasshopper landed on the patio. The vertical brown body part is his wings.

I found this wasp especially beautiful in its striking geometric markings.

And here are a few more butterflies, because we can never have too many butterflies in this world.

A pair of mating Cassius Blue Butterflies and, in the subsequent photo, a Cloudless Sulphur.

Lastly, one of my favorite butterflies while in Georgia: the Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly. You can see how big it is in comparison to the Plumbago flowers. Swallowtail butterflies, from the Papilionidae family, are some of the largest butterflies on our planet.

Insects are integral to our planet. Some resources say that insects comprise 80-90% of the animal life forms on Earth.

I still have Georgia reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals to share with you. But for now, we can find glory in these most amazing insects.

Written by Jet Eliot.

All photos in the wild by Athena Alexander.

64 thoughts on “Georgia Insects

  1. You and Athena see so much more than most of us – and right here in my own back yard! I am so grateful that you do and that you’re willing to share it with us here!

    • My warmest thanks, Walt, for your words of appreciation today. And how lovely to know that you lingered here in wonder and thanks. I hope you have a full weekend of wonder and thanks, my friend.

    • Your comment gave me an appreciative smile, Hien. I think you’re right: the insects must’ve known we were there to marvel, because they sure did put on quite a show. Many thanks.

  2. Georgia is a bit further south than where I live in Northern Virginia, so there are some species of birds, butterflies, and dragonflies there that I don’t get to see (like the Roseate Skimmer, Zebra Longwing, and Gulf Fritillary). It was nice to see that you encountered some of my familiar summer friends including the Eastern Pondhawk, Blue Dasher, and Eastern Amberwing dragonflies. You and Athena must have been moving along pretty slowly to be able to spot so many tiny species. None of the dragonflies is very big and most of the butterflies that you featured are small too (with the notable exception of the Palamedes Swallowtail Swallowtail and maybe the Gulf Fritillary). It is interesting that you were so taken with the Cattail Toothpick grasshopper. I have only seen one a couple of times and was fascinated by each encounter–the fluted “horns” prompted me to nickname it the “Dual-unicorn Grasshopper). (Here is link to a posting with a pretty close-up shot of one of the grasshoppers. https://michaelqpowell.com/2020/05/03/cattail-toothpick-grasshopper/)

    • I sure enjoyed hearing about your encounter with the cattail toothpick grasshopper, and appreciated your link and post. When I first saw this creature I didn’t even know what it was exactly, until my brother, who lives in TX where he has seen them, said it was a grasshopper. After that, I just kept following them around and watching them. I also enjoyed your input on the butterflies and dragonflies, and your No. VA experiences. Of course I always think of you when I see dragonflies…you’re the person who opened my eyes to this amazing insect. A treat to have you stop by and comment, Mike, thank you.

      • I am still chasing around the remaining dragonflies in my area, though they are getting harder and harder to find. I am going to be in the Seattle area around Thanksgiving, so I may get to do a little West Coast wildlife exploring, though I don’t expect to see the kinds of subjects that you say while you were in Georgia. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • There may not be too many insects in Seattle by Thanksgiving, Mike, but I highly recommend their zoo as an alternative. Many thanks for today’s exchange.

    • Dear Jet Eliot,

      I concur with Mr Mike Powell, and I remember perusing your post entitled “Those Who Drink Nectar” published two months ago on the 3rd of September, where I had very much enjoyed your featuring many excellent photos of nectar-feeding birds and insects.

      Here, you seem to have outdone yourself in your current post featuring insects from Georgia. Thank you.

      You certainly have a fascination with the nectarivore, defined as “an animal which derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of the sugar-rich nectar produced by flowering plants.”

      I would like to resonate with your good spirit and your affinity for those critters with the following banner that I design for my co-authored post entitled “Do Plants and Insects Coevolve? ๐Ÿฅ€๐Ÿ๐ŸŒบ๐Ÿฆ‹“:

      Happy November to you!

      Wishing both you and your family another productive weekend doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most!

      Yours sincerely,
      SoundEagle

      • Thank you so much, SoundEagle, for your kind words of appreciation. I also found your banner beautiful, with the butterflies, beetles, orchids, fern, grasshopper and the stunning luna moth. My best wishes and thanks to you.

      • Dear Jet Eliot,

        You are very welcome. I have recently published a new post entitled ๐Ÿฆ… SoundEagle Guided Imagery, where I feature some of these nectarivores, not just butterflies but also hummingbirds, fully animated and flying about.

        The direct link to the post is:

        https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2021/11/08/soundeagle-guided-imagery/

        I look forward to your visiting the said post and reading your thoughts and feedback on the multimedia extravaganza there. May you enjoy my dynamic, immersive and bespoke offering of birds and bees plus butterflies and flowers to your heart’s content!

        Happy mid-November to you and your family!

        Yours sincerely,
        SoundEagle

  3. I am personally amazed at just how many different butterflies and other variety of insects
    there are in Georgia and still there is more to see! Wow! to say the least. Great photos,
    and write-up. Thank you for the great presentation and photos!

    • You may have many of the same insects in Florida, Eddie, so how very wonderful that is for you. And I agree, the variety and liveliness is something really beautiful to behold. As always, a joy to “see” you, Eddie.

  4. Beautiful photos of these butterflies and insects. Love the closeup images. I haven’t visited GA for a very long time. Thank you for the tour, Jet!

    • Yes, it was great being so near to the dragonflies, and great to have the photos to see the really minute details. Thanks very much, Jan, always a pleasure to “see” you.

    • I’m chuckling, Eliza, because, I, too, thought that bird grasshopper had an interesting look on his face. Looked pretty cheeky. ha. Fun to share the insects of GA with you. Thanks very much.

    • I’m always in awe of the butterflies you highlight from your majestic Alps, Mike. And I’m glad I could share a few of their cousins in GA with you today. Thanks for stopping by, always a joy.

    • You always get me laughing, Frank, with your descriptions, and this time it was your reference to Athena’s “kick-me-in-the-butt” photos. Thanks so very much for your visit and kind words, and for giving me a smile today.

    • Oh it’s a great compliment that you thought today’s post was “cool,” thanks so much Val. Insects often get a bad rap, so it’s an honor to share their beauty with others.

  5. I do love butterflies and dragonflies are so cool but they really look like alien beings when you look closely. We have some grasshoppers around right now and they can really jump. How terrible it must have been when hordes of them landed in a field and ate everything in a matter of minutes! Thanks for the enjoyable post and have a wonder-filled weekend.

    janet

    • Hi Janet, so nice to “see” you. I agree with you, those compound eyes on the dragonflies give them an alien look, adding to their coolness. My warmest thanks for your visit, I’m very glad you enjoyed the Georgia Insects.

  6. Really delightful! Iโ€™m appreciative of the amount of time youโ€™ve taken to carefully identify and learn about each of these insects. So many are imperiled by our human impact on the planet. We see very few insects these days it seems (though there have been swarms of midges in our current mild weather). We had a nice walking stick on the side of the house this week and found a deceased praying (preying?๐Ÿ˜‰) mantis in the garage.

    • I am so glad you appreciated the GA Insects post, Eilene. The identification is, as you say, a big part of the research. We use a phone app called Seek through iNaturalist, which helps a lot. It is not always accurate, but most of the time it is. I liked hearing about your recent insect findings. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.

  7. The Zebra butterfly is really beautiful. I’m going to be on the lookout for them. I had a toothpick grasshopper hop on me when I was bike riding.

    • I loved hearing that you had a Cattail Toothpick Grasshopper hop on you while bike riding, Bill. Another hitchhiker. And I agree, the zebra butterflies are so stunning. The ventral side has some beautiful red spots, not seen in the photo. I know you will see more now that you are aware of it, I hope you have fun doing so. We saw them the most while on Jekyll Island. Thanks so much.

  8. Fabulous photographs! Those are sultry summertime temperatures up here – well, rarely gets to that even in high summer – so we enjoyed reading about and seeing these October delights – thanks, Jet!

    • I am happy you enjoyed the GA Insects, pc. It was really fun to find so many different insects than what we have in Calif., so I’m glad you found it to be fun too. My warmest wishes for a happy weekend to you and Mrs. PC.

    • I know as a writer I am always working on both the big and little picture, so I appreciate that your writing experience has brought you to this lovely comment on the GA Insects post, Craig. Thanks so very much.

    • Wonderful to hear from you, Deborah. That Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly was really a marvel, I’m glad you enjoyed the photo. Sometimes when I saw it out of my periphery, at first I thought it was a hummingbird. That’s how big it was! Thank you for stopping by, much appreciated.

  9. I love how you describe dragonflies as one of Earthโ€™s masterpieces. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think so, too. The mosaics on the Roseate Skimmer’s wings are so pretty. A rosy day, indeed. I’ve never seen a picture of the underside of a Roseate Spoonbill before. Amazing! My favorite picture is of Blue Dasher Dragonfly, even though they’re all pretty dazzling. ๐Ÿ’™

    • It was a true pleasure reading your comment and feedback, Barbara, thanks so much. Your eye for the subtle aspects of my post is much appreciated — my word choices, the skimmer’s wing patterns, and the underside of the roseate spoonbill. It is really cool to be underneath a roseate spoonbill and looking up, catching their most unique silhouette. And I agree, that Blue Dasher was glorious. My warmest thanks.

    • It’s often a surprise to hear details about weather in a foreign land. Yes, Georgia has its cool months, and of course every year is different. And their cool weather is nothing like yours, it’s mild. They do turn their furnace on in the deepest winter months. I enjoyed your visit today, Andrea, thanks very much.

  10. Pingback: Georgia Insects โ€” Jet Eliot | huggers.ca

  11. Thank you for sharing Jet. Sometimes we take for granted the many insects that surround us daily! Athena caught so many of them….wow…beautiful and I love learning all of this thanks to you!! Very informative post!!!

    • It is a great pleasure to have you stop by, Wilma. I’m glad I could entertain you with the Georgia Insects, and I hope this means you’re feeling better. Sending get well wishes your way….

  12. It seems like the rain has brought out a bunch of insects around here. Georgia has to be quite a contrast to your home out west. It’s good to see you out there enjoying all those lovely insects… I marvel at your ability to name each and every one! ๐Ÿ˜

    • Thanks so much for your visit, Gunta, and insect discussion. Yes, the insects in GA are very different than our No. Calif. ones, and so very intriguing. The identification of them was challenging, and I thank you for noticing. The Seek app from iNaturalist was a helpful, but not always reliable, assist. My warmest thanks and best wishes.

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