Arizona/S. Texas Week 43

Just hours after escaping south Texas ahead of Hurricane Patricia, I reveled in silent awe at a Poling’s giant-skipper (photo 1) sunning itself on a granite shelf along the Arizona Trail.  While Texas was getting hammered, Tucson's sunny skies further beckoned me into Madera Canyon, where male Chiricahua whites (photo 2) floated lazily down from the treetops to sip water from the creek bed below.

My outing to Sycamore Canyon was thwarted by hordes of deer hunters, but a jaunt to Organ Pipe NM the next day with Jim Brock and Ken Kertell was sweet recompense.  In search of Gentry’s giant-skipper, we trekked up a rugged desert slope greened over by recent rains and dropped into a canyon lined with pools that seemed perfect for this rare Agathymus.  We couldn’t locate our quarry, but great company and grand desert landscape were ample reward.  

Back in Mission, TX at the butterfly center, I missed the Ornythion swallowtail by scant minutes.  The next day, Mike Rickard’s Wednesday butterfly walk at Santa Ana NWR delivered 3 new Big Year species:  a Ruby-spotted swallowtail (found by Mike) roosted on the wall of the visitor center; a Guava skipper (photo 4) nectared on crucita about 10 feet above the trail; and a Brazilian skipper perched briefly on a leaf before disappearing into the brush.

Next week . . . the NABA Butterfly Festival.

New Species:  Ruby-spotted Swallowtail Papilio anchisiades, Chiricahua White Neophasia terlooii, Guava Skipper Phocides polybius, Brazilian Skipper Calpodes ethlius, Poling's Giant-Skipper Agathymus polingi

New Species:  5    

Total Big Year species:   503 (Pelham catalogue)   

                                          508 (Opler/Warren checklist; Brock/Kaufmann field guide)   

                                          485 (NABA checklist; Jeffrey Glassberg)   

                                          510 (all sources)              

Species Photographed:  499

Agathymus polingi

Poling’s giant-skipper, Arizona Trail, Molino Basin, Tucson, AZ

Neophasia terlooii

Chiricahua white, upper Madera Canyon, near Green Valley, AZ

Pellicia arina2

Glazed Pellicia, Santa Ana NWR, south of Pharr, TX

Phocides polybius

Guava skipper, Santa Ana NWR, south of Pharr, TX

Phoebis philea

Orange-barred sulphur, Valley Nature Center, Weslaco, TX

© Chris Tenney 2014