Michigan to Nevada Week 29

Crazy, stupid crazy.  From upper Michigan across the northern tier states to Montana, then south to Nevada, over 2,000 mi. driving this week, stopping only mid-day for butterflies when wind and rain were no issue.  Some beautiful country, and I DID notice, despite my butterfly obsession.  

In Glacier, the lure of the high country drew me into a 12-mile hike, where, for once, scenery out-competed butterflies for my attention.  As water gushed down rocky rapids and cascaded over falls from receding glaciers, Blue and Mariposa coppers fluttered about in flowery meadows.  This kind of country has special meaning for me . . . I met my wife May on a 30-day High Sierra backpack trip.  In fact next week I’ll be scouring high elevation slopes and meadows from Echo Pass near Tahoe to Tioga Pass in Yosemite for a few remaining target species.  

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Glacier National Park

When rain clouds socked in over the Glacier high peaks and tundra, I moved downslope and south to mid-elevation forests.  Along a side road lined with showy sunflowers, fritillaries and an occasional Western sulphur swarmed over dogbane; just up the road, several flashy Compton tortoiseshells and Green commas flitted about an abandoned campsite. 

Earlier in the week, in Michigan’s Seney NWR, Pink-edged sulphurs and Atlantis fritillaries nectared along roads and trails, while roadside seeps in Minnesota added Dorcas copper and thankfully, one Acadian hairstreak; eastern hairstreaks have been a difficult find all year. 

I’m now sitting in the rain at an RV campground in Winnemucca, NV, a little bummed that storms may have cost me my last opportunity at many high-elevation species in the Rockies.  I did get a brief bit of luck yesterday in Wyoming - the clouds parted for about 30 min., so I jumped out of Chalcedona and danced across the alpine tundra in brilliant sunshine as first Mead’s sulphur, then Theano alpine and Pelidne sulphur flushed from flowerheads and grass tufts.  My best bug may have been a White-veined arctic, first observed last month in Alaska, but with a limited range in the lower U.S.  And that was it . . . as rain persistently dogged me from Glacier NP south into Nevada, where the Ruby Mtns. will have to wait yet another year.  The good news - sunny skies are forecast all next week!

New Species:  Western Sulphur Colias occidentalis, Mead's Sulphur Colias meadii, Pelidne Sulphur Colias pelidne, Pink-edged Sulphur Colias interior, Gray Copper Lycaena dione, Blue Copper Lycaena heteronea, Dorcas Copper Lycaena dorcas, Mariposa Copper Lycaena mariposa, Acadian Hairstreak Satyrium acadica, Atlantis Fritillary Speyeria atlantis, Compton Tortoiseshell Nymphalis vaualbum, Theano Alpine Erebia pawloskii, Peck's Skipper Polites peckius, Long Dash Polites mystic

New Species:  14    Total trip species:  427   Species Photographed:  415


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Compton Tortoiseshell, Swan mountains, Kalispell, MT

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Green Comma, Swan mountains, Kalispell, MT


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Theano Alpine, Beartooth Pass, Wyoming

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Summer Azure, Highway 28, Michigan upper peninsula


© Chris Tenney 2014