Insects seemed to respond to the recent warm afternoons. Skip had written to me about seeing some local Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), so I went out looking.
I found quite a few, but most were in flight:
I also encountered at least four Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta):
And three Variegated Meadowhawks (Sympetrum corruptum):
If you've been following this blog for a while, you might remember that I wrote about seeing a Variegated Meadowhawk in December 2013 (and in January 2013). After several years of seeing this species in late December/early January, I'm now starting to think this is a regular early emergence time for Variegated Meadowhawk. The dragonflies I saw today looked shiny and new, so I'm guessing they were young and had emerged from wetlands very recently.
Although chilly temperatures will discourage these winter fliers, if it warms up again watch for these butterflies and dragonflies in sunny locations that are out of the wind.