Mission, TX Week 45

When the call came in for the Emerald aguna at NABA, I was reminded about Bob Pyle’s prophesy in a recent email that I would be “getting help from all those eyes” at the festival.  It’s now post-festival, and “all those eyes” are still here, many festival-goers staying to explore parks, gardens, and refuges for fall rarities.  When one is found, the call goes out, and soon a mob gathers to observe, or in some cases, search for the bug.  A few leave disappointed, as re-finding a small butterfly in a large garden is no sure thing.

In addition to the aguna, other notable finds this week included a Band-celled sister and a Yellow-angled sulphur (the latter spotted by Mark Salvato) at Bentsen SP.  Ken Wilson and I successfully chased a Marius hairstreak at Santa Ana NWR and a Strophius hairstreak in Mike and Ginny Rickard’s back yard (both found by Mike).  Back at Bentsen, an odd-looking “dusky-blue groundstreak" in a fiddlewood tree proved to be a Ruddy hairsteak (identified by Mike).

Glassburg group

Jeff Glassberg (far right) with group at NABA festival 

A Falcate skipper, nectaring in a small garden at Estero Llano Grande SP for over a week, remained yet another day for Ken and I to enjoy.  Later that morning we ventured to Rio Rico Rd., where Karen and Bob Yukich were scrutinizing milkweed vines for the tiny Walker’s metalmark.  Bob spotted a male at the top of a distant flowery clump some 10m high; other Walker's soon emerged and joined in a nectar-fest with red-bordered and blue metalmarks.

Directions from Dan Jones’ blog guided me to Brushline Rd. north of Edinburg, where numbers of Red-crescent scrub-hairstreaks darted about along a dirt track with Lantana scrub-hairstreaks, Desert checkered-skippers, and four species of white-skippers. 

At week’s end Lorna Graham and I savored a pleasant (though windy) morning on Mike’s weekly Santa Ana walk, but no new butterflies.  Driving back to NABA after lunch, our conversation about an absence of recent exciting new species was interrupted by Linda’s phone call detailing a Yellow-tipped flasher at NABA!  Jogging down the trail toward the flasher, I halted briefly next to a an excited young woman, who described a butterfly with "red at the bottom edge of the hindwings.”  Thinking Red rim, I scanned the area, but the butterfly had disappeared.  (Well, maybe it was a Red admiral?)   I continued on to find the flasher patiently nectaring and got great photos, but back up the trail, a second group was excitedly waving and shouting.  Sure enough, they had re-found and confirmed a Red rim! . .  but I was seconds late!! Determined to find this rare tropical beauty, I thrashed my way through brambles, bugs, and spider webs into a ditch behind the trail, where, half an hour later, the Red rim posed handsomely on several leaf perches before flying into the canopy; minutes later, it dropped down to a trailside bait log for others to appreciate.  

Wow! . .  eleven new species this week, and two more weeks until Thanksgiving in California.  Can it get any better than this?!!

New Species:  Yellow Angled-Sulphur Anteos maerula, Strophius Hairstreak Allosmaitia strophius, Marius Hairstreak Rekoa marius, Red-crescent Scrub-Hairstreak Strymon rufofusca, Ruddy Hairstreak Electrostrymon sangala, Walker's Metalmark Apodemia walkeri, Band-celled Sister Adelpha fessonia, Red Rim Biblis hyperia, Emerald Aguna Aguna claxon, Yellow-tipped Flasher Astraptes anaphus, Falcate Skipper Spathilepia clonius, 

New Species:  11    

Total Big Year species:   520 (Pelham catalogue)   

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

                                          502 (NABA checklist; Jeffrey Glassberg)   

                                          527 (all sources)              

Species Photographed:  515

Aguna claxon2

Emerald aguna, National butterfly center, Mission, Texas

Doxocopa laure3

Silver emperor, National butterfly center, Mission, Texas

Strymon rufofusca2

Red-crescent scrub-hairstreak, Brushline Rd., near Edinburg, Texas

Astraptes anaphus2

Yellow-tipped flasher, National Butterfly Center gardens, Mission, TX

Biblis hyperia3

Red rim, National Butterfly Center gardens, Mission, TX

© Chris Tenney 2014