Heat Wave - LRV 9/2/00

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Sat Sep 2 23:45:56 EDT 2000

It was 108 F in Houston last week - they say it has NEVER been hotter there.
I can say that 108 degrees with 95% humidity is not a pleasant experience.
Of course, there are places where these temperatures would be refreshing.
No comprendo.  I won't be visiting these places anytime soon.

So - with the terrible drought and these suffocating temperatures, there was
probably little reason for me to consider getting out and doing any
butterflying.  But I'm an addict - so in the car I went.   To Brownsville.

Hey - it's five degrees cooler down here!  I spent most of my time in San
Benito - and had to limit my treks to short, two hour bushwhacks.  After
about the first 15 minutes, you become completely saturated - which
frustrates the mosquitoes, because they drown in your sweat before they can
do their dirty work.  It doesn't stop them from buzzing your ears, though.
My friend Eugene at Sabal Palms (I visited him during the hottest part of
the day, when the leps were doing siesta) wears a bandana under his hat
while working in the preserve.  He wears it in such a way as to shield his
ears, while sopping up the sweat on the back of his neck.  Pretty smart guy,
Eugene.  Knows his birds and butterflies, too.  He thinks the palms are
dying of thirst, BTW.  That would be a shame.

Where was I?  Oh yeah - San Benito, 15 minutes and your dripping wet.  After
90 minutes, you start to get really hot.  By 120 minutes, you're suffocating
and dehydrated.  It's time to seek some air conditioning.

It's some sort of bird hunting season.  The booms and blasts carried on all
through the day.  A few times the shots got pretty close - at one point I
thought I might get shot.  Of course, as I made tracks away from the sound -
I startled more birds - giving them even more to shoot at.  I caught myself
wondering what buckshot feels like when it falls back to earth.  As usual, I
had to chuckle at my predicament.  I would have been a sight had they caught
me in their sights with my net, covered in sweat and mosquitoes, swinging at
some insect.  Who knows - maybe they'd give me a bear hug and consider me a
good 'ol boy.  Heck, I'm one of them - a hunter of sorts.  We're colleagues,
after all.  

How do these guys endure this heat?  Probably not the same way I do.

So I found very few butterflies on the wing (they're smarter than I), and
while there were quite a few species present, many ever present species were
surprisingly absent.  No Euptoieta claudia (Variegated Fritillary).  No
Zerene cesonia (Southern Dogface).  No Nathalis iole (Dainty Sulphur).
Other reliables were out - like Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail),
Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail), Pheobis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur),
Agraulis vanillae (Gulf Fritillary), Anartia jatrophae (White Peacock), and
Danaus gilippus (Queen).  I did see a few lifers, too (which is always nice
after you drive 7 hours and endure 103 degrees).  I found Papilio ornythion
(Ornythion Swallowtail) nectaring.  It is quite noticeable - with it's
crescent-shaped banding, no yellow scales on the tails, and a distinct
eyespot.  The underside is different from P. cresphontes as well.  I don't
know if I've ever seen one - since in the presence of many Giant
Swallowtails, I doubt if I ever looked that close.  This one female was
visited briefly by a small male P. cresphontes - they seemed to nudge noses
in a fond exchange, but apparently it's a square peg kind of problem...  Of
course, she was pretty beat up - missing some wing, etc.  Maybe he didn't
find her attractive.

I also found Ministrymon clytie (Clytie Hairstreak) - which I've never seen
down here before (for whatever reason).  I love hairstreaks.  You really
have to have keen eyes - especially when you're experiencing sensor overload
from really large leps.  Many hairstreaks - Clytie included - love to hang
out perching on shady overbrush.  They "flit" rapidly, quickly coming to
rest again in an almost imperceptible motion.  This hairstreak was
"flitting" with it's buddies, the Red Banded Hairstreaks.  I got a whole lot
of mosquito bites watching and looking for these little guys.

So not a bad day after all.  I'm ready to go home now.

San Benito list:

Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail)
Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
Papilio ornythion (Ornythion Swallowtail)

Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur)
Eurema lisa (Little Yellow)

Calycopis isobeon (Red Banded Hairstreak)
Ministrymon clytie (Clytie Hairstreak)
Hemiargus ceraunus (Ceraunus Blue)
Calephelis nemesis (Fatal Metalmark)
Calephelis nilus (Rounded Metalmark)

Agraulis vanillae (Gulf Fritillary)
Phyciodes phaon (Phaon Crescentspot)
Anartia jatrophae (White Peacock)
Asterocampa clyton (Tawny Emperor)
Hermeuptychia hermes (Southern Satyr)
Danaus gilippus (Queen)

Epargyreus clarus (Silver Spotted Skipper)
Chioides catillus (White-striped Longtail)
Urbanus procne (Brown Longtail)
Pyrgus albescens (White Checkered Skipper)
Heliopetes laviana (Laviana White Skipper)
Copaeodes minima (Southern Skipperling)
Lerema accius (Clouded Skipper)
Polites vibex (Whirlabout)
Amblyscirtes celia (Celia's Roadside Skipper)

Mark Walker
last night in Brownsville, TX

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