A Week in July!

I had the great pleasure to work with Bud Wobus and a group of alumni from Williams College this summer at The Nature Place, near Florissant, Colorado. We explored the geology and ecology of sites ranging from the Upper Sonoran Life Zone of Canon City all the way to the Arctic Alpine on Mount Sherman, west of Fairplay. In one day, we crossed Pikes Peak granite, Cripple Creek Granite, Wall Mountain Tuff, a massive lahar from the 39-mile volcanics, and more. Keeping track of it all wasn’t easy. Here are some highlights in photos.DSC08452.jpegWonders along the way were dramatic. This is probably only the second record from Teller County of the California tortoiseshell butterfly. Shelf Road.DSC08495.jpegA William’s tiger moth still warming up to fly. (Not Williams College).DSC08458.jpeg

The pallid swallowtail, Papilio eurymedon, was lost in the wonder of a wet spot.eurymedon.jpegThe leach mining at Cripple Creek was of an unearthly scale.leach mining.pngAnd from the Florissant Fossil Beds Quarry, we found a couple of these Curculionid beetles, along with lots of leaves and seeds…fossil.jpegand a chipmunk family in the petrified stumps.chipmunk.jpegOur group, above the Hole in the Rocks on Shelf Road. All brilliant, all fun.DSC08505Crossbills, crossbills, crossbills everywhere.DSC08433.jpegAnd the omnipresent golden-mantled ground squirrels.ground squirrel.jpegIn the high country, Oeneis uhleri, Uhler’s arctic butterfly, hiding in the weeds.O. uhleri.jpegPieris napi, the veined white.DSC08565.jpegA day-flying moth, Schinia persimilis, in the Heliothine subfamily of Noctuidae.DSC08545.jpegAnd Parry’s primrose below the alpine rockslides.primrose.jpegThis is a mere taste of Colorado’s wonders. If you haven’t been out west, you have a dream to live for. And, Williams people, I’ll send “Riding Out on the Lahar” by email. Other viewers here won’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

More From South Texas

From Corpus Christi north along the bays, construction is proceeding at a fevered pace, driven largely by the Saudi Arabian Government, Exxon Mobil, and other large corporations. Much of the shoreline looks like this.DSC07601.jpeg

But some stretches are preserved, as at Sunset Lake just south of Portland, TX. Here you can find all sorts of treasures.DSC07811.jpegDSC07785.jpeg

And as you drive north through the cattle (and oil) country, the wildflowers are unbelievable.DSC07750.jpeg





More on the ?Insect Apocalypse

As a follow up to my earlier report on the butterflies and diurnal moths of the Pikes Peak Region, I took the advice of Steve Taylor and prepared a graphic of all 255 dates on which I counted butterflies, and on which the time, temperature, and other conditions were favorable to flight. This shows the “noise” encountered in this sort of work, as well as the extraordinary summers of 2012-2014. If there is a trend, it might show up as a decline after 2015, when levels are about as they were early in the study. Note that most of the points from 2015 on fall below the mean score of 72.5/h. However, the overall slope is very slightly up (+0.032x). I can’t wait to continue observations this summer.All w fit.png

If I restrict the data to just the 145 dates that are from Bear Creek Canyon, there is a very slightly different trend, this time downward (–0.12x), from about 91 to 74 over the 35 years. Maybe this is the apocalypse! More later!BCC Only.png

New Moths for 2018

The following moths, discovered by several workers in the region, are new to my database of species in the Pikes Peak Region. Thanks to Eric Eaton, Aaron Driscoll, Zach Vogel, and Van Truan for posting photos of some of these. The ones without initials are from my collection, mainly from the bioblitz at Corral Bluffs in September. At that site, on one night, I took ten species new to the region.12345678

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Thirty-six new species found in the area. Keep going, guys. This is fun.