South Texas stuff

Martin Bailey cmbb at
Tue Jan 8 09:41:39 EST 2002

Dear Chris,

I was gratified to see that you feel that there is a direct relationship
between rainfall and the presence of butterflies.  Probably this is not
noticed by most observers because they work along the east or western
seaboards of the Continent.  However, for those of us who live in what was
called The Great American Desert in the 1800s, our experiences are

The following is a note that I sent to a friend a few days ago which touchs
on this issue in an "old wild west" fashion.

Martin Bailey,
greetings from:  Weyburn, SK., Canada.
                         49.39N  103.51W

Jan. 4 was our annual winter journey to The Big Muddy to count birds.  At
noon we go off the highway onto a dirt road, through a gate - which cannot
legally be across a road allowance - and stop by a cairn commemorating an
old Custom's post (one mile north of the Canadian/U.S. border) that once was
there to eat lunch.  Above us on the bench (mesa: highlands) is the Marshall
cemetery.  John Marshall who came to the area as a Northwest Mounted
Policeman and stayed.  The Sioux women attended his wife's births, both to
help and out of curiosity.  How do white women do it?  What is the original
colour of their babies?

Things have changed.  There was another fence line across the road strung
this time where the road meets the highway.  Another rancher decided to make
it easier for his cattle to go from one side of the road to the other.

And what do these range wars have to do with butterflies?

Running by the post is an artisan well.  The only place that I figure that
you would find butts in the immediate area.

Is there a direct relationship between water and butterfly location?  No.
Correlation, yes.

What I seem to have noticed in this immediate area is that on the highlands
where the water does not collect and you have only sparse vegetation, you do
not have butterflies.  Where there are natural depressions in the landscape
(where water gathers)  there are more plants (forbs, shrubs, grasses) and
hence the micro-habitat for butts.

And how is this latest range war going to affect me and entourage in the
future?  We will go over to the rancher's place (the one who strung the
latest barbed wire across the road) and talk about the weather, common
friends and who are our relatives.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris J. Durden" <drdn at>
To: <leps-l at>
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 12:31 AM
Subject: Re: South Texas stuff

> Bill,
>     In Texas, especially in South Texas, it is not the place but the time.
> Almost anything occurs in Texas sooner or later (I have yet to see an
> *Oeneis* but they are only about 100 miles away) but you have to be there
> when it is. The chances of this are slim. To be a good collector in Texas
> you have to be a gambler, patient to wait out the long dry spells, then
> clean up when the good stuff shows up.
>     The key is water. The Rio Grande no longer spills into the sea, it is
> closed by a bar at the mouth, although you can find some good things
> sometimes behind Playa Washington which is the only part of Mexico you can
> walk to (without a bridge and customs) East of El Paso. Study the county
> rainfall records (available from NOAA). There are mean rainfall peaks
> recorded over the las 60 years. Even though the actual rainfall rarely
> comes at these times natural selection has seen to it that our butterflies
> are genetically programmed to appear at these times. Try just after the
> peak historical rainfall for your county of interest, when the larval
> foodplants are putting out fresh leaves. That is when you will find the
> butterfly fauna, after a run of average years. Most counties are slightly
> different so work on the details. Be prepared to try the same place at the
> same time year after year and you may strike it rich. More and more wild
> habitat is being created as non collectable wildlife reserves. Tropical
> fauna wanders in all the time (when there is enough water). Look for these
> wanderers in vacant lots and along irrigation ditches anywhere in The
> Valley and you may be rewarded.
> ....................Chris Durden
> At 07:54 PM 1/7/2002 +0000, you wrote:
> >OK folks, your holding out on me.  Someone must know the good
> >hot COLLECTING spots in south Texas!?  I,ve got a little info from local
> >Arizona guys but would like to see a few different people respond so I
> >make a semi-intelligent choice on places and times.  Dig deep fellow
> >leppers!
> >Thanks   Bill in Tucson
> >.
> >
> >
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