West Virginia to Arizona Week 38

This meadow looked promising, only partially grazed, with scattered wildflowers, and with butterfly activity visible from the road.  OK, it’s really a glorifiied cow pasture, but in better shape than most of the West Virginia hillsides I’ve explored today.  My target was Meadow fritillary, and within minutes, a likely candidate zipped by, chasing a smaller Pearl Crescent.  Sure enough, farther uplslope a colony of these Boloria beauties patrolled clumps of deeper grass, occasionally alighting on the ground.  I haven’t seen this bug since my teen years in Illinois, and it will likely be my last new eastern species this Big Year.  The next few days were dedicated to the annual Tenney Family Reunion in Buckhannon, WV . . and little time to chase butterflies.

Arizona has been blessed this year with bountiful monsoon rains, but this was a bit much.  A late-season storm, which dumped over 5 inches on Mt. Lemmon above Tucson, postponed for two days my search, with Jim Brock, for Sunrise skipper.  So the next day, dodging showers under mostly overcast skies, I drove up the Mt. Lemmon Highway, where Rita Blues perched handsomely on their buckwheat host and Red-bordered Satyrs bobbed and weaved through the woods of the Chihuahua Pines campground.

Skies cleared the following day as Jim and I headed for Parker Canyon Dam, a known reliable site for Sunrise skipper.  Enroute, we stopped hopefully at a lush roadside bog where Jim had seen the skipper in prior wet years.  We quickly sighted several of these tiny, fast-flying jewels, but I’ll have to return for a photo.  Now, with extra time on our hands, we backtracked through Sonoita to Box Canyon, where Jim guaranteed Arizona giant-skippers would be mudding in the wash.  At our first stop along the upper canyon, Jim spotted one almost immediately, and we were soon, literally, a-wash in giant-skippers.  It’s seldom this easy!

New Species:  Rita Blue Euphilotes rita, Meadow Fritillary Boloria bellona, Red-bordered Satyr Gyrocheilus patrobas, Sunrise Skipper Adopaeoides prittwitzi, Arizona Giant-Skipper Agathymus aryxna

New Species:  5    Total trip species:  483   Species Photographed:  471


Meadow fritillary, cow pasture, Buckhannon, WV


Question mark, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia


Red-bordered satyr, Mt. Lemmon Highway, Tucson, AZ


Arizona giant-skipper, upper Box Canyon, se. Arizona

© Chris Tenney 2014