Early Spring Butterflies

Already two {EARLY] records for the database: the checkered skipper and the spring white. Here’s the butterflies so far this spring.

               Erynnis telemachusErynnis.jpg

               Pyrgus communisPyrgus.jpg

                   Pieris sisymbri sisymbri.jpg

               Polygonia zephyruszephyrus.jpg

                  Polygonia faunusfaunus.jpg

               Nymphalis antiopaantiopa.jpg

                Nymphalis milbertimilberti.jpg

My Atalopedes Paper

This paper was rejected by the Lepidopterists Society because I did not make a clear enough distinction between “perching” and “roosting.” The latter involves shade-seeking, while perching means sitting on an elevated leaf or flower and watching for passing insects to harass. Anyway, the point of the paper should be clear. Atalopedes skippers modify their behaviors at high temperatures to avoid overheating. They can’t tolerate temperatures above about 40°C, so if the Texas thorn-scrub savanna warms beyond that, they’ll move north. I would.

1.png23 Continue reading “My Atalopedes Paper”

Latest butterfly records yet

Until this fall, the 22nd of November was the latest date on which I observed butterflies. But this fall I have records from five dates in November and six dates in December, through the 20th, one day short of the solstice. On December 12th I found Colias eurytheme (alfalfa butterfly), Colias philodice (clouded sulfur), and Nathalis iole (dainty sulfur) on the wing in good numbers. On 16 December, Nathalis iole was about, basking laterally against the dark soil on a hillside. And on the 20th, Nathalis iole again, three of them. The previous record for this species was F. Martin Brown’s 3 December 1954 observation. Combined with last February’s records, we now have only about 48 days of butterfly-less weather! Here is Nathalis iole.DSC04834.jpg

Colias eurytheme (alfalfa butterfly)DSC04836.jpg

Colias philodice (clouded sulfur)DSC04838.jpg

Autographa californica (California signature moth)DSC04858.jpg

And Nathalis iole, the latest-flying butterfly on record, with a date stamp, one day before the winter solstice.DSC04899.jpg

 

Leucism in Lepidoptera

Albinism and leucism are rare in Lepidoptera. If you google “Albinism and Leucism in Lepidoptera” you’ll find thousands of photos of mammals, birds, and reptiles, but only a scattering of leps, some of which are white species, not leucistics. The obvious exception is a white luna moth, which is normally green. But the photo is labeled “Albino,” while the dark ocelli stand out on all four wings. It is a leucistic. Leucism is caused by recessive alleles that don’t produce the normal pigments. Albinism is an extreme case of this in which all of the alleles are dysfunctional.

I found a Vanessa cardui that is partially leucistic, feeding with hundreds of normal morphs on Chrysothamnus bushes. I show it here with a normal form below.

DSC04627.jpgDSC04629.jpgIMG_8057.jpgIMG_8061.jpg

Moths New to the Pikes Peak Region

This summer I was able to set blacklight traps in several localities. In addition, several other enthusiasts in the region posted photos of moths from bioblitzes or from National Moth Week blacklighting. This resulted in 34 species new to the Pikes Peak Region by my count. This brings my total reference collection to 2073 species. The projected total species is close to 3500, so it’s not surprising that we’d turn up quite a few new ones. Records new to this region are listed here, with Hodges numbers and sources, which, if not named, are my own records this summer.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 9.51.54 PM.png

 

Late Season, Pikes Peak

This late in the season (September 2) many animals have lived their lives and have left offspring to hibernate through the winter. In terms of insects, little is flying now compared with mid-July. But here are a mating pair of Mountain Blues (Agriades rustica) and a third, an onlooker. They should have gotten a room. Yarrow blossoms are pretty exposed.DSC04386.jpg

And the late-blooming Rudbeckia plays host to quite a few butterflies and even a wasp. I’ll put some determinations on these when I get them. The butterflies are, clockwise from top, the zephyr anglewing (Polygonia zephyrus), Milbert’s tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti), and again, the mountain blue (Agriades rustica). Tiger beetles are having a great time of it on the damp sand above Glen Cove.

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This, I think, is a Sphecid:DSC04403.jpg

Cicindela punctulata:DSC04370.jpg

And in the rockslides I found four marmots, looking a lot like rocks, sunning themselves and barking at me.DSC04320.jpgDSC04340.jpgDSC04341.jpgDSC04343.jpg