08-02-13 Butterfly Field Note

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08-02-13 Butterfly Field Note

August 2, 2013

Marirose Kuhlman's Field Note details the first butterfly count at MPG. Species in this note include a Lorquin Admiral, Coral Hairstreak, and Hydaspe Fritillary.

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MPG held its first “4th of July Butterfly Count” this year. The “Fourth of July Butterfly Counts” is a project of the North American Butterfly Association. This event occurs throughout the U.S. and compiles information about butterfly species and their abundance. Counts may occur on any single day in June or July.

Lepidopterists rely on field markings, when possible, to identify the insects to species. Hindwing eyespots with an uncentered black pupil confirm this individual above as an Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). Unsilvered spots and a “wine-colored” basal disc on the hindwing usually discern the below-pictured butterfly as a Hydaspe Fritillary (Speyeria hydaspe).

Gilding the lily: A Coral Hairstreak perfects this showy milkweed near Tongue Creek (Satyrium titus on Asclepias speciosa). This tail-less hairstreak sports a row of bright red spots on its hindwing. Below, a stag party of Melissa Blues (Plebejus melissa) congregates on a clump of mud in Whaley Draw. This “mud-puddling” behavior by male butterflies may increase their chances of reproductive success.

A well-worn Blue Copper (Lycaena heteronea) on Mount Baldy nectars on yarrow (Achillea millefolia). Sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), a larval host plant for this gossamer-wing butterfly, abounds on Mount Baldy’s summit. Common Branded Skippers (Hesperia comma) dominated the Butterfly Count this year (below, on showy fleabane - Erigeron speciosus.)

A Lorquin’s Admiral, poised for flight, perches on a Rocky Mountain maple (Limenitis loquini on Acer glabrum). This species’ wings and body displays delicate and elaborate patterning.

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