Friday, November 5, 2010

Southern Butterflies

Traveling outside of one's own state and zone of familiarity is an opportunity to search for some new sights and new species.

And what would a trip to Utah be if one didn't see Mormans? Morman Metalmarks that is! This is a fairly common butterfly in the west, typically found on dry sandy beach or rocky washes and hill sides. With two broods, Morman Metalmarks can be found from March- October.

Watchman Trail- Zion, Utah
With light snow in our neighborhood today, it is hard to believe it was just a short week ago we were chasing butterflies across the deserts and mountains of Utah. Not much gives me thrill like seeing a new life butterfly, bird or ... well any species new to me, is a thrill...

some a little more than others: this tarantula for instance. The Zion tour guide mentioned their presence, but there is nothing like stumbling upon a fist-sized spider crossing the rocky path in front of you. Oh, yeah... hello... nature! I will just admire you from over ... here.

A more familiar species was the Checkered White butterfly. We found these several times in Ohio this year, however they are far more common in the south and south-west. None-the less, it was a pleasure to see this one nectaring on the flora that bloomed along the path.

New locations and unfamiliar vegetation leaves me with a feeling of helplessness, and a curiosity (didn't that kill the cat?) for the local flora and fauna. The first order is finding a good local guide book, and "Howdy friend," there is our familiar Kaufman Field guide. That guy gets everywhere- and I mean that in a good way! On this trip I bought a copy of 70 Common Butterflies of the Southwest, as it met my needs for the local species.

Dainty Sulphur.... Photo by George Sydlowski
The Dainty Sulphur is another southerner generally found from Florida, through Texas to California. They are known in Arizona and Utah as well, but this little stunner was found in the Oak Openings of Ohio by Angie Cole. This mini-sized sulphur is a rarity in Ohio, and in 1999 the first one found in Ohio for over 68 years was noted at the Guy Denny Prairie in Knox county.
A good summer, like this one, brings migrant butterfly species north, where they can colonize into local populations. However, having no tolerance for cold weather these species die off and are not found in northern ranges again, until another favorable butterfly year occurs.
Special thanks to my North-western Ohio friends, Jackie Riley, Angie Cole and George Sydlowski for sharing the photo of the Dainty. Be sure to check out George's marvelous photography at his attractive website.

No comments:

Post a Comment