Arizona/Colorado Week 33

While parsing clouds of butterflies in Sycamore Canyon, I’m thinking, yeah, perhaps I’ve lingered too long in SE Arizona.  There are few new species left to chase here (this would be my 4th straight day without one), but I wanted to hook up with Ken Wilson of San Diego and just revel in this natural butterfly garden one more time.  About a mile downcanyon I broke my 4-day slump as a gorgeous green-and-black Malachite (photo below) lazily drifted by, landed on a flower just inches from Ken, and gave us great closeup pics.  Buoyed by this rare sighting, we dragged our weary, sun-drenched bodies back to the car and up the hill to Pena Blanca Lake.  Here, in the intense 100 F afternoon heat, Ken spotted a small, odd-looking pale lycaenid perched on a leaf with wings folded up.  It proved to be a Creamy Stripe-streak, another tropical influx species this area is noted for.  Our final species day-tally of 54 is my high for the year.  I’ll be back soon, Sycamore!

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White Mountains, AZ

Enroute to Colorado, I followed Ken Kertell’s directions to several stops in the White Mtns. of AZ.  Along a small creek below Luna Lake, Nokomis fritillaries streaked past me, arcing and banking like magnificent jet fighters, equally ignoring nectar sources and my camera lens.  Just west of Eagar, AZ, a White Mountains Ruddy Copper nectared, well, eagerly in a small meadow on purplish asters.  The isolated population here was only recently designated a new species.

It was a fritillary flying in front of the car that caused me to pull off the road, just north of Durango, CO.  Edward’s fritillary would give me a clean sweep of the Speyeria.  As I futilely searched the woods for frits, about 100m ahead several butterflies chasing in the treetops caught my eye.  Looking around, I saw a few scattered pines among mostly Gambel’s oaks, the latter a host plant for . . . could it be, finally, YES!  Colorado hairstreak (photo below) has been high on my want-list all summer!!  I left with a satisfied grin, no longer thinking about Speyeria.

At Monarch Pass (elev. 11,400’), on the last day of my week, a steep leeward slope in high winds harbored one Scudder’s sulphur among many Colorado alpines.

New Species:  Scudder's Sulphur Colias scudderii, White Mountains' Ruddy Copper Lycaena ferrisi, Colorado Hairstreak Hypaurotis crysalus, Creamy Stripe-streak Arawacus jada, Nokomis Fritillary Speyeria nokomis, Malachite Siproeta stelenes, Colorado Alpine Erebia callias

New Species:  7    Total trip species:  467   Species Photographed:  452


Siproeta stelenes

Malachite, Sycamore Canyon, near Nogales, AZ

Hypaurotis crysalus (4)

Colorado hairstreak, Silverton Highway, near Durango, CO

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rattlesnake, Ruby Road, near Nogales, AZ


© Chris Tenney 2014