The Rocks of Palisade Sill

DSC07273.jpgFor those not tuned in to Southwest Geology, a sill is an igneous intrusive that has inserted itself parallel to the surrounding strata (a dike runs at angles to the strata). Palisade Sill is a huge intrusive in northern New Mexico between Raton and Taos on Highway 64. You won’t miss it when you head west into the canyon out of Cimarron. The sill is made of Monzonite, which is on the continuum between syenite (very light in color) and diorite (medium in color) and has plagioclase and orthoclase feldspars in approximately equal amounts. In short, it is a lighter than granite, but generally similar.

My favorite aspect of this imposing formation is that the joint systems are at nearly right angles, which leaves enormous faces and a ragged, blocky crest at the skyline. And, of course, lots of rubble along the stream below. Here are some images of the crestline.DSC07299.jpeg

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Letting Go

After 33 years of collecting moths in the Pikes Peak Region, I finally have begun to let it go to the C. P. Gillette Museum in Fort Collins at Colorado State University. The first installment, 36 drawers of mostly Noctuidae (the owlet moths) were shrink-wrapped and dispatched on August 29. One drawer is shown here.9.jpg

And here is the first load.IMG_2410.jpg

And in their new home.Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 10.46.16 AM.png

Many more to go in the next few weeks. Sad to see them go, but I know that they’re in a better place. (!)

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.

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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