Arizona Sky Islands Week 32

What a fun week!  Two high-powered butterfly counts, Ramsey Canyon (86 species) and Patagonia (97 species), each followed by days to chase down target species, all while dodging monsoon storms.  Just now, minutes after photographing Moon-marked skipper in Madera Canyon, a sudden deluge drenched my lightly-clothed torso as I scrambled a mile upslope for refuge in my camper Chalcedona.  The smell of ozone was everywhere, and the skies crackled with a deafening boom after a near simultaneous lightning-thunder discharge.  

The storms are very local, and every day one can find butterflies flying somewhere.  If a storm builds in the Santa Ritas, I cross the valley to search the sunny Catalinas for Nais metalmark, or Carr Canyon for Arizona hairstreak and Scudder’s duskywing (thanks, Jim Brock), or Patagonia Lake for Tropical least skipper, or Sycamore Canyon for Elf and Toltec roadside-skipper.  Of course a day that begins with clear skies, like today, can change quickly, but I enjoy these cooling showers and the renewal of life they bring to the mountains.   

On the Ramsey Canyon count,  Florida white roosted along the San Pedro River and Orange-edged roadside-skippers perched low in trailside vegetation in upper Miller Canyon.  (Note: Western cloudywing, observed and photographed weeks ago in the CA Sierra, was added this week only after extended ID analysis).

From now until Texas in October-November, my plans are rather sketchy, as summer flights for many species are ending, and potential for new species is limited.  A family reunion in West Virginia in September will give me a few days to pursue eastern species, and I’ll target several late-flying giant-skippers in the southwest.  Also a week in Florida is likely (several chance meetings in these AZ mountains with FL residents Mark and Holly Salvato led to an offer of assistance there), but s. Texas remains as the next big push to my year list.

New Species:  Florida White Appias drusilla, Arizona Hairstreak Erora quaderna, Zela Metalmark Emesis zela, Nais Metalmark Apodemia nais, Elf Microtia elva, White-striped Longtail Chioides albofasciatus, Western Cloudywing Thorybes diversus, Scudder's Duskywing Erynnis scudderi, Tropical Least Skipper Ancyloxypha arene, Moon-marked Skipper Atrytonopsis lunus, Toltec Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes tolteca, Orange-edged Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes fimbriata

New Species:  12    Total trip species:  460   Species Photographed:  446


Elf, Sycamore Canyon, near Nogales, AZ


Nais metalmark, Mt. Lemmon Hwy., near Tucson, AZ


White-striped longtail, Harshaw Cyn. Rd., Patagonia, AZ


Sonoran (Mormon) metalmark, Patagonia, AZ

© Chris Tenney 2014