S. Texas Week 44

Private ranches in s. Texas can harbor great butterfly habitat.  On one such ranch, Mike and Ginny Rickard and I explored a dense maze-like garden rich with the promise of new species . . like the Blue-eyed sailor, roosting next to a large cactus, which flew off before I could extract my camera.  While attempting to re-find this Mexican beauty, Ginny and I were treated to an accommodating Ornythion swallowtail (photo 1) slowly nectaring its way along a linear patch of white lantana.  Minutes later, Mike, who had wandered off on a separate track, yelled out “red-crescent scrub-hairstreak!”  This gray hairstreak look-alike would have been a great addition to my list, but it slipped away before we arrived.

Mid-week, a wave of high-energy Giant whites passed through the valley at numerous sites, occasionally stopping to nectar (photo 4).  During the 3-day NABA butterfly festival, a Double-dotted skipper (photo 5), discovered by NABA-founder Jeff Glassberg, worked a crucita patch in the old garden at Sabal Palm Sanctuary.  After several misses, a post-festival return to Santa Ana NWR finally produced an East Mexican white-skipper (photo 2), first reported by Mark and Holly Salvato.  A bonus that day was the dimunitive Violet-patched skipper (photo 3), which perched languidly on a crucita blossom along the tram road.

A special thanks to the many festival organizers and attendees from around the country, too numerous to mention here.  

New Species:  Ornythion Swallowtail Papilio ornythion, Giant White Ganyra josephina, Blue-eyed Sailor Dynamine dyonis, East Mexican White-Skipper Heliopyrgus sublinea, Violet-patched Skipper Monca crispinus, Double-dotted Skipper Decinea percosius

New Species:  6    

Total Big Year species:   509 (Pelham catalogue)   

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

                                          491 (NABA checklist; Jeffrey Glassberg)   

                                          516 (all sources)              

Species Photographed:  504

Papilio ornythion

Ornythion swallowtail, private ranch, near McAllen Texas

Heliopyrgus sublinea

East Mexican white-skipper, Santa Ana NWR, near Pharr, TX

Monca crispinus2

Violet-patched skipper, Santa Ana NWR, near Pharr, TX

Ganyra josephina2

Giant white, Bentsen state park, Mission, TX

Decinea percosius2

Double-dotted skipper, Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Brownsville, TX

© Chris Tenney 2014