Tropical Buckeye Dark form


Common Buckeye

When I put trips on the schedule, I don’t often look at the weather forecast for the date of the trip.  I figure the chances of it be correct are not that great, so what’s the point.  As luck would have it, I scheduled my annual butterfly trip to Harshaw on the coldest morning we have had since February!   At this point there wasn’t a whole lot to do about it except go ahead and hope for the best.

Rabbitbrush, a shrub in the aster family, is the last major nectar source for butterflies in southeast Arizona before the first hard freezes of the season.  So any butterfly worth it’s salt will be in attendance.  We set out with reserved anticipation.

Arriving at my favorite rabbitbrush patch, I saw a Queen as soon as we got out of the car.  That was a positive development!  In short order, we saw another.  Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all!

As things turned out, we counted 23 species in about two hours.  Not a record-setting tally, but good considering that the temperature has barely inched into the 60s by the time we were done.

We had six pierids (Checkered White, Orange Sulphur, Dainty Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Tailed Orange, Southern Dogface, and Mexican Yellow), all three ladies (American, Painted, and West Coast), and both buckeyes (Common and Tropical).  For the last species, we had the typical and the ‘dark’ form.  Other nymphalids included American Snout, Texan Crescent, Variegated Fritillary, and Arizona Sister.

Among the gossamer wings, we had winter form Leda Ministreak, Reakirt’s Blue, and Western Pygmy-Blue.  The skippers included Dorantes Longtail, Common/White-Checkered-Skipper, and Desert Checkered-Skipper.  We had no swallowtails or metalmarks.

There was also a plethora of grasshoppers present, including Plains Lubber and Differential Grasshopper.

It was a spectacular morning with a terrific group!






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