Beatty Beauties - 5/10/01

Mark Walker MWalker at
Tue May 15 02:50:23 EDT 2001

Thanks to Jim Brock I had some ideas on where to look for Philotiella
speciosa in Nye County, Nevada.  On this extended business trip, I needed to
drive from Las Vegas to San Francisco - and Death Valley seemed as good a
route as any other.  Whatever I wrote previously on HOT - you can ignore.
It doesn't get any hotter than this.  Over 115 F on the valley floor, with
about 5 degrees per 1000 ft.  Not a pleasant experience when you're driving
a three cylinder vehicle without air conditioning.  Phew!

I got a bit of a late start, and didn't arrive in Beatty until after 10:00
a.m.  I was pleased to find the Small Blue's larval foodplant straightaway.
It was common, but mostly very small (most plants between 0-2 inches tall).
It took over two hours before I spotted my first adult.  Man!  The field
guides aren't kidding about this thing being hard to watch with the naked
eye.  It is absolutely transparent.  There were also many Pygmy Blues on the
wing - and this made the whole thing all the more difficult.  Focusing eyes
with extreme intensity is painful, and the Brephidium generate many false
alarms.  Still, there's no mistaking this butterfly.  The males flicker very
blue, unlike the Pygmies.  The problem is keeping them in your line of
sight.  I was pleased to find several, but disappointed that they weren't
more common.  May 10th seems late if anything, but the adults I saw were

If you haven't seen this butterflies larval foodplant, it is incredible in
it's own right.  A tiny little stalk with bell-shaped appendages - it truly
looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.  How a lep can survive on this
weed in the middle of such a inhospitable place is beyond me.

Vanessa yourmomma were quite plentiful.  There were also many Alma
Checkerspots (T. leanira alma) patrolling about and occasionally nectaring.
Another gem was a singleton of the Saltbush Sooty Wing (Hesperopsis
alpheus), this a male bopping from one Atriplex plant to another.  A great
day - even if I was sweating profusely.

Here's my list:

Pontia beckerii (Becker's White)
Pontia protodice (Checkered White)
Euchloe lotta (Desert Marble)
Pontia sisymbrii (Spring White)

Brephidium exile (Western Pygmy Blue)
Hemiargus ceraunus (Ceraunus Blue)
Philotiella speciosa (Small Blue)
Apodemia mormo (Mormon Metalmark)

Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady)
Thessalia leanira alma (Alma Checkerspot)

Hesperopsis alpheus (Saltbush Sootywing)

Mark Walker.


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