The Wonder and the Challenge…
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.
Thirty-six new species found in the area. Keep going, guys. This is fun.
For 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.
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.
And here is the first load.
And in their new home.
Many more to go in the next few weeks. Sad to see them go, but I know that they’re in a better place. (!)
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.
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.
Colias eurytheme (alfalfa butterfly)
Colias philodice (clouded sulfur)
Autographa californica (California signature moth)
And Nathalis iole, the latest-flying butterfly on record, with a date stamp, one day before the winter solstice.
One of my favorites: The Caracara, which means “Faceface” in Spanish. Doesn’t it? Well named!
And stilts. How about those legs!
Green jays are common along the Nueces River.
And scissor-tailed flycatchers. Wow!
Black-bellied plovers are in the Gulf bays.
Little is known of the predators of blister beetles. But we can speculate…
Looking back, this was one of the best summers of my life. To begin with, it was the earliest spring in my fifty years of record keeping, with emergent butterflies flying in February, and a strong flight through March. Then the huge May freeze!
Then, red tailed hawks nesting in the back yard. I never imagined that.
Then, other birds, both on the mountain and in the garden.
And mothing! I had the pleasure of collecting moths in several areas, some new to me: Blodgett Peak Open Space, Ute Valley Park, Bluestem Prairie Open Space, Rock Creek Canyon, and Baculite Mesa. Keeping track of all those moths isn’t easy. I added 37 new records for the Pikes Peak Region, bringing my current total to 2073 species.
And the garden OMG, what a year for the flowers!
And the July rains!
I heard that it was the wettest July on record. So, up came the mushrooms. We found about 40 species on one hike in Bear Creek.
And July on Shelf Road, the amazing rabbit bot fly!
And rare butterflies. The third record of Nymphalis californica and the fourth record of Adelpha eulalia in El Paso County.
Plus many new records of the butterflies like the pigmy blue, Brephidium exile (photo by Tim Leppek), which reminds me of Eric Eaton and all the new friends I found on the Arthropods Colorado Facebook Group. That’s been a load of fun. (What will we do in the winter?)
So it was an amazing summer. I already have seasonal affective disorder from the 7:30 twilight. I can’t wait until spring.