Week at Yellowstone

Ernest Williams ewilliam at hamilton.edu
Tue Jul 30 13:56:08 EDT 2002

I just got back from Wyoming (Yellowstone and Cody area) and was 
surprised to find several notes on Yellowstone butterflies.  I can 
comment briefly on the butterflies and on field guides.

1. On butterflies of the region.  C. haydenii was abundant, and the 
usual numbers of B. kriemhild were there, but E. gillettii is 
declining.  I'm repeating my 20-year-old survey of gillettii 
populations (1988, J. Lep. Soc. 42:37-45), and the news is a little 
grim.  Several populations that were robust in the 1980's are 
completely gone now.  I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has 
found it since 1990 - and the locations, as precise as possible.  On 
other species, I assume you mean Pontis occidentalis, not protodice. 
Erebias are down this year - callias, theano, epipsodea.  And I bet 
you saw a lot of C. oetus nectaring on late-flowering rabbitbrush and 

>List: (only listing species different than home in California)
>Coenonympha haydenii - Many
>(Hayden's ringlet)
>Poladryas arachne - Many near lake Yellowstone
>(Arachne checkerspot)
>Pontia protodice - Zillions
>(Western white)
>Parnassius phoebus - Only one
>The following were snatched from the front of vehicles as they pulled
>into vista points around the park (I'm an opportunist since I don't
>carry a net)
>Speyeria mormonia - beautiful specimen!
>Clossiana kriemhild - an awesome sight as well
>The following I couldn't clearly identify:
>Many specimens of wood satyr/eyed brown
>Many Many Blues and Coppers
>Many very fast flying and very large Fritillaries
>I looked everywhere for Euphdryas gillettii (Yellowstone checkerspot)
>but never was able to see one.
>Bob Thomas

2. On books (ref: the comments below).  Currently, the best general 
field guide to butterflies of (most of) the west is Glassberg's 
_Butterflies through Binoculars: The West_.  If you haven't tried it, 
do so - whether you collect or not.  The photos are spectacular and 
extremely useful in identification.  For some species, it helps to 
supplement with other books, too.  Sometimes Scott (1986) is helpful, 
though very awkward to use; Howe (1975) adds a little about variation 
of subspecies; Opler (Peterson series, 1999) has good information but 
the visuals don't help; Pyle (Audubon, 1981) has some good points but 
doesn't supplant the others; and Tilden & Smith (Peterson series, 
1986) is not worth bothering with.  The new regional guides to 
Alberta (1995) and British Columbia (2001) are excellent, if that's 
your interest.  I haven't seen Pyle's new guide to Cascadia.  But 
Glassberg can serve as the primary field guide to the West,

>Does anyone know of a better ID
>book than the Audubon field guide or the Peterson's western
>butterflies?  I continue to get stumped when trying to ID with these
>two sources :(
>Bob Thomas

>Scott's "Butterflies of North America" is a fat book, expensive, and not
>altogether accurate - but it's a great addition to the two books you've
>The book by the same title by William Howe is sadly out of print.  If you
>can find one, it's another great book and a must have - even if the taxonomy
>is way out of date.  It's wonderfully illustrated, and is pretty reliable
>for id'ing many of the obscure western ssp.
>Beyond that, I'm afraid you're limited to regional field guides.  Many good
>ones do exist, though not all are equipped with plates.  Of course, there
>are the Glassberg books - I haven't bought one yet, but they are apparently
>getting better as field resources.
>Mark Walker.

>I just visited California for the first time during July 3-8 and I 
>used J. Glassberg's "Butterflies though Binoculars West" and 
>California Butterflies by Garth and Tilden for my sources. 
>Butterflies Though Binoculars was very handy came out this spring I 
>believe and it has range maps,yet it didn't have Mountain Crescent, 
>Phyciodes campestris montanus  in it.
>Randy Emmitt

Ernest Williams
Clinton, New York


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit:


More information about the Leps-l mailing list