Odds and Sods

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Sat Sep 22 03:41:20 EDT 2001

I'm back in Richland, WA to do some more consulting work.  Long hours, and
little time off.  In the past two weeks, though, I have been able to steal
away a minute here and there and have enjoyed some nice bugs.  I thought I'd
compile a list of the spots I've visited, and share with you some of what
I've seen.  It's nice to know that there's always something flying

Sunday, September 9th - Los Ebanos, Hidalgo Co., TX

The Lower Rio Grande Valley was surprisingly green and lush - but there were
few leps on the wing.  I would be so bold as to make a prediction - it
should be a great November/December there, and perhaps the larvae that are
happily munching now will help spawn an active late winter and early spring.
I haven't seen SoTexas so green in September since 1998.  For me, the most
common LRV sighting on this trip was a most attractive young lady on a
popular "Wild on Texas" Budweiser billboard.  She was everywhere.  

There were a few insects of interest, also.  Asterocampa leilia (Empress
Leilia) was common in the scrub areas near the River, most easily found
flitting and resting on dirt roads.  Mostly males, but there were a few
females as well.  I saw NO skippers in several stops.  Pierids were on the
wing, and could have a nice explosion soon.  All the major players were
present - Phoebis sennae (Cloudless Sulphur), Phoebis agarithe (Large Orange
Sulphur), Phoebis philea (Orange Barred Sulphur), along with Eurema nicippe
(Sleepy Orange), Eurema lisa (Little Yellow), and Nathalis iole (Dainty
Sulphur).  The only swallowtails seen were Papilo cresphontes (Giant
Swallowtail) and Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail).  Hemiargus isola
(Reakirt's Blue) was the most common Lycaenid.  Calephelis nemesis (Fatal
Metalmark) could be found bopping around in the underbrush.  There were
plenty of Agraulis vanillae (Gulf Fritillary), and Texola elada (Elada
Checkerspot) is still flying through the grassy areas amongst the scrub.
Phyciodes phaon (Phaon Crescentspot) is also flying near moisture.  Danaus
plexippus (Monarch) can be seen migrating south in numbers.

Thursday, September 13 - Blanco, Blanco Co., TX

In the aftermath of the tragedy that was September 11, I got in my rental
car and headed for home (California).  I stopped just outside of Austin, and
had a look around.  There were far more butterflies on the wing in central
Texas than in the south.  Things were equally green, but there was still a
shortage of nectar.  A common flowering plant with star shaped white
blossoms was a pretty good attractant for Callophrys gryneus (Juniper
Hairstreak), which was incredibly common.  Not much of a surprise, given the
extent of foodplant in this part of Texas.  It's everywhere.  And so was
this gorgeous little bug.  The gryneus that flies here (like so many other
eastern locations) has a very deep and extensive green scaling on the
underwing.  There were also skippers flying here - including Erynnis
horatius (Horace's Duskywing).  Other skippers included Hesperia viridis
(Viridis Skipper), Poanes zabulon (Zabulon Skipper), and Hylephila phyleus
(Fiery Skipper).  Battus philenor, Papilo cresphontes, and a single specimen
of Papilio polyxenes (Black Swallowtail) were also seen.  The Monarch was
quite common at nectar here also - and obviously heading for Mexico.

I stopped in nearby Fredericksburg, where there is a nice little Butterfly
House and Garden.  Even those of us who prefer the bugs and sweat and
sunburn of the remotest of fields, personal interaction with leps in a
controlled environment is always a joy.  I wanted to introduce myself to the
proprietor, but she was away at the time.  Maybe next time.

Friday, September 14 - Bard, Imperial Co., CA

I considered stopping on my crazy cross country trip in the Southeast
Arizona area, but on Friday the whole southwest was under dark cloud cover
with occasional torrential rainfall.  In fact, I was rained on all the way
from Fort Stockton, TX to Yuma, CA.  Too bad, cuz this is a great time of
the year to do some lepping in Arizona (as Hank has so kindly shared of
late).  I had other problems, as well.  I was driving like a madman so I
could attend my son's second high school football game.  It wasn't until I
got to Tucson that I found out that his game had been cancelled.  By the
time I was driving across the California border, it was already past 2:00
p.m.  I detoured briefly to Bard, near the Colorado River, and had a look
around.  No big surprise that I didn't find much, but I was excited to find
Pyrgus scriptura (Small Checkered Skipper) flying along with the ever common
Lerodea eufala (Eufala Skipper).  There were also Pyrgus albescens (White
Checkered Skipper) flying about the same irrigation canals.  P. scriptura is
a joy to experience - but can be easy to miss if you're not looking at the
Checkered Skippers rather closely.  They are certainly smaller, and have a
somewhat distinguishable flight, but if you're not looking closely, you're
likely to miss them.

Saturday, September 15 - Oceanside, San Diego Co., CA

Home for just a few short hours, and I couldn't help myself.  I took the
kids down to the beach to look for Panoquina errans (Wandering Skipper).  We
were not disappointed, and found the desperate little thing quite common in
it's ever-shrinking native saltgrass habitat.  You know you're sick with the
disease when you categorize bugs like this as being beautiful - but that's
an understatement.  The bugs being beautiful, I mean - well, and the sick
with the disease part, too, I guess.

Monday, September 17 - Hyak, Kittitas Co., WA

I flew to Seattle this time, and drove the Interstate four hours to
Richland.  My plane got in to SeaTac rather early, so I stopped to get off
the highway in the Cascades.  I found a logging road, and headed for higher
pastures.  I wasn't successful in finding decent habitat, but there were
butterflies to be found at altitude.  The most common by far was Nymphalis
californica (California Tortoiseshell), which is flying strong with many
fresh individuals (probably destined for spending the winter under snow).
Speyeria hydaspe (Hydaspe Fritillary) was quite common, even though they
appeared to be a few weeks past prime.  There were still Neophasia menapia
(Pine White) flying down from the pine trees to take brief nectar breaks.
Lycaeides idas (Northern Blue) was common at nectar, and there were
occasional Lycaena mariposa (Mariposa Copper) at the same flowers.  I saw
two stunning individuals of Polygonia faunus - almost red above, and with
C-shaped "commas".  Vanessa annabella (West Coast Lady) was common and
immaculate, along with Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral).  The only skipper on
this day was Ochlodes sylvandoides (Woodland Skipper).  By 3:00 p.m.,
virtually all but the Nymphalis were nowhere to be seen.

Thursday, September 20 - Richland, Franklin Co., WA

For lunch I decided to take a walk along the Columbia River.  I had been
seeing numerous yellow sulphurs, and I was hoping I might find something
interesting.  While I'm sure there are Colias philodice and possibly even C.
alexandra flying, all I found at lunch this day were C. eurytheme.  The
females have extensive black scaling, though, so even these common insects
can be fascinating to examine.  There was an absolute explosion of
Atalopedes campestris (Sachem), though, so I was more than occupied anyway.
I don't know if the Sachem is a breeding resident or not, but it sure is
having a healthy brood up here now.  Also found on Rabbitbrush (which is
still blossoming here) were Hesperia juba (Juba Skipper).  Pyrgus communis
(Common Checkered Skipper) was also flying.


Anyway, thanks for bearing with me.  Scattering a few records here and there
helps keep my mind off of the ongoing fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Mark Walker
still visiting Richland, WA., where I am scratching from a combination of
exposure to mosquito bites, poison sumac, poisonwood, and poison ivy.  I'm a
scratching fool.


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