Painted Lady in Alfalfa field, near Remsen, Iowa -------

We spent most of the weekend on the family farm in northwest Iowa. Although the variety of wildlife and vegetation is not the same as here in the Upper Mississippi Valley, there are still plenty of opportunities for a nature photographer.

All images: Nikon D750, Sigma 150mm / f2.8 APO EX DG HSM

My brother-in-law Don gave me the hint about a patch of alfalfa next to his pig nursery, where hundreds of butterflies were feeding nectar from the blossoms. Most of them were Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), one of the most widespread butterflies in North America. Adults may not survive in freezing temperatures and so most of them overwinter in the south and Mexico. Their flight and wing beats are erratic and fast and it was difficult to pre-visualize how the photos would turn out.

Spider paralyzing Painted Lady butterfly

One butterfly got my particular attention while I tried to follow it with the camera. The insect suddenly stopped moving and remained still with its wings spread out. Having a closer look revealed that the Painted Lady was ambushed by a spider. While the butterfly was in a feeding frenzy, the spider used its chance and paralyzed its victim. Well, they all have to live…