Sonora Mexico

fred_heath at fred_heath at
Fri Sep 11 01:16:12 EDT 1998

        A group of LA Chapter NABA (LANABA) members teamed up with a few 
     folks from SE Arizona (Huachuca Audubon) and led by Doug Danforth, 
     headed into Sonora, Mexico for a long Labor Day Weekend of butterfly 
     watching. We went into central Sonora to Yecora and butterflied in 
     that area on Sunday. On the way down on Saturday, we stopped at a few 
     places including the Rio Matape at San Jose de Pimas and stopped at 
     Baviacora on Monday during the return trip.  
        We saw at least 110 species and probably over 115 once we sort out 
     a few mystery butterflies. Because of the unusually wet rainy season 
     butterflies were as abundant as Doug (who has been going down for more 
     than 10 years) can remember. One puddle-party had 1000's of 
     butterflies with probably 35 species.
        Since this is only my second trip to this area, I'm not sure what 
     is really good, but the highlights for me were: Broad-banded 
     Swallowtail (Papilio astyalus), the many puddle-parties filled with 
     Pierids- Oranges, Sulphurs, and Yellows, the graceful Yellow-angled 
     and White-angeled Sulphurs (Anteos maerula and clorinde), 10 species 
     of hairstreaks including the Creamy Stripestreak (Arawacus jada) with 
     an impossible NABA English name (try saying "stripestreak" three times 
     fast or even once slow for that matter), that we all decided to go 
     with the scientific name (Sorry, Jeff Glassberg et al!), several 
     fanastic looking Blue (or now Maria) Metalmark (Lasaia maria), a few 
     Rosita Patch (Chlosyne rosita), many Elf (Microtia elva) which I kept 
     calling a Pixie (Melanis pixie) much to the temporary excitement of my 
     companions, the little Hepburn's Patch (Texola hepburni), which is 
     really a checkerspot, the Texan Crescent (Anthanassa texana) was by 
     far the most common butterfly on the trip, a Blackened Bluewing 
     (Myscelia cyanthe), my personal favorites: a Glaucous and a 
     Black-patched Cracker (Hamadryas glauconome and atlantis) which landed 
     briefly on a few of us, a Kawinski's Beauty (Smyrna karwinskii) was 
     one of the few I personally missed and regretted the most (but then I 
     would have missed the Blackened Bluewing), Tropical Leafwing (Anaea 
     aidea) was downright common, we picked out a Soldier (Danaus eresimus) 
     among the many Queen (D. glippus).
        And then the skippers-- Starting out with the showy Dull Firetip 
     (Pyrrhopype araxes), another questionable NABA English name, a number 
     of longtails including: many Dorantes (Urbanus dorantes), Long-tailed 
     Skipper (D. proteus), probable Mexican (Polythrix asine), 
     White-striped (Chioides catillus) and Zilpa (C. zilpa); Skinner's 
     Cloudywing (Achalarus albocilatus), the oddly named and postured 
     Fritzgaertner's Flat (Celaenorrhinus fritzgaertneri) which was finally 
     well seen after fleeting and tantalizing glimpses of an earlier 
     individual which we thought would be destined to become one of the 
     mystery creatures, the velvety black Orsines Bolla (Bolla orsines), 
     the perplexing scallopwings (Staphylus) for which we had pictures of 
     only 3 of the 6 species, and other than the quite distintive 
     Golden-headed (S. ceos) are really tough. Doug tentatively, at least 
     IDed one as a Mazans (S. mazans), but not knowing what 3 of them look 
     like, I decided to pass on adding that one to my life list. Emorsa 
     Skipper (Antigonus emorsa) was the most common of the skippers, the 
     several Texas Powered Skipper (Systasea pulverulenta) always rated a 
     "WOW," all four white-skippers (Heliopetes) were found: Erichson's (H. 
     domicella), Northern (H. ericetorum), Laviana (H. laviana) and 
     Turk's-cap (H. macaira), a handful of the Common Streaky-Skipper 
     (Celotes nessus) never failed to amuse me, looking so rumpled (the 
     butterfly, not me). We had very few grass skippers (Hesperiniinae 
     subfamily) with Prenda Roadside Skipper (Amblyscirtes prenda) being 
     the most common. 
        By the end of trip, the NABA members had learned a lot of the 
     scientific names and Doug had picked up on some of the English names, 
     but I don't think you will ever hear him calling a Arawacus jada a 
     Creamy Stripestreak.
        On Tuesday, after this weekend, all of the NABA folks wandered over 
     to Garden Canyon in Fort Huachuca for a bit of slower paced butterfly 
     watching. A couple of puddle parties turned up 7 species of blues (we 
     had had only 3 species in Mexico) including the Rita Blue (Euphilotes 
     rita), a new one for me. The highlight of day had to be the endemic 
     Huachuca Giant-Skipper (Agathymus evansi) which posed on rock for all 
     of us to get a good and long look. Red-bordered Satyr (Gyrocheilus 
     patrobas) was voted the coolest looking butterfly for the day.

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