From the monthly archives: "September 2012"

The Baccharis that is blooming in Elyria Canyon Park is attracting a myriad of insects in search of nectar.
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
September 30, 2012

Baccharis near Red Barn in Elyria Canyon Park

The hedge of native Baccharis near the Red Barn in Elyria Canyon Park is about ten feet tall and it is currently in bloom.  There is a noticeable buzzing one hears upon approach, and that is caused by thousands of Honey Bees eagerly gathering nectar.  It seems Baccharis is a magnet for pollinating insects of all types, and without a doubt, the Honey Bees are the most numerous, but other insects can be spotted taking advantage of the bounty.

Honey Bees on Baccharis

Clare and Daniel made a trip on Saturday and though there was work to be done, Daniel used Clare’s camera to get a few photos.  The largest butterfly spotted on the Baccharis was a Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, butDaniel was unable to get a photo with a spread wing view.

Painted Lady on Baccharis

Though the photo is quite out of focus, Daniel also managed to get a photo of this Checkered Skipper in the genus Pyrgus that did not want to hold still long enough to be photographed.

Checkered Skipper on Baccharis

A tiny creamy yellow butterfly was observed flying close to the ground, but it never landed, so no conclusive identification could be made.  Daniel returned today with a better camera and decided to document the visitors to the Baccharis.  A 50mm lens with a macro feature allowed for closeup photographs, however, since there was no zoom, the photographer often startled the insect subjects into flying away.  Luckily the tiny yellow butterfly made a return appearance and posed for two quick photos.  These photos substantiated a sighting local lepidopterist Julian Donahue made on August 23 of a Dainty Sulphur, Nathalis iole, though it is doubtful the individual Julian spotted over a month ago at his home is the same individual photographed in Elyria Canyon Park, which would indicate there may be a local population with noticeable numbers present in Mount Washington this summer.

Dainty Sulphur on Baccharis

There were at least three species of Gossamer Winged Butterflies present today, and the largest were the Gray Hairstreaks, Strymon melinus.  These little beauties have the habit of rubbing their hind wings together, perhaps to attract the attention of any predator into mistaking the tail and wing spots for the head of the butterfly and deflecting an attack from the vital organs to the expendable wings.

Gray Hairstreak and Honey Bee on Baccharis

Smaller than the Gray Hairstreak is another Gossamer Wing, the Marine Blue, Leptotes marina.  They were present in sufficient numbers to flutter about in small groups.

Marine Blue on Baccharis

The smallest of the Gossamer Winged Butterflies were another species of Blue, possibly the Achmon Blue, Plebejus acmon, though we are still awaiting Julian’s input on that identification.

Confirmation from Julian Donahue
NEW to the Mt. Washington Butterfly List! Good job, Daniel.
Although this is a tough group of butterflies to identify, it appears to be an Acmon Blue (Icaricia acmon). Larvae feed on Deerweed (Lotus scoparius, now Acmispon glaber) and Astragalus (none of this in Elyria that I know of); also on California Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum.
Photo going up on MWHA Facebook page in the next few minutes.

Possibly Achmon Blue on Baccharis

The final butterfly species we were lucky enough to photograph today was an unidentified Grass Skipper in the family Hesperiinae, and they were also present in significant numbers.

Grass Skipper on Baccharis

Other visitors to the Baccharis that were spotted but not photographed include a Cabbage White, a Figeater, several Cactus Flies, a large Syrphid Fly and other flies.








Subject: caterpillar
Location: Manassas, VA
September 30, 2012 11:55 am
Two years in a row I found this in my back yard, but have never seen one before. Can you ID this?
Signature: Brent in Manassas, VA

White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Brent,
This is the caterpillar of the White Marked Tussock MothBugGuide warns:  “CAUTION: Avoid handling the caterpillar, as its hair is known to cause allergic reactions, especially in areas of the body with sensitive skin (e.g. back, stomach, inner arms). Seek medical treatment if a severe reaction occurs.”

What’s Buzzing on the Baccharis?  Dainty Sulphur among others
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
September 30, 2012 at 11:03AM
Yesterday Daniel and Clare went to Elyria Canyon Park to water the butterfly garden and take inventory of tasks that need to be completed.  The Baccharis is in full bloom around the Red Barn and countless Honey Bees were buzzing about.  There were also other insects interested in the nectar, including a Painted Lady, Skippers, Marine Blues and Gray Hairstreaks.  Daniel noticed a small creamy yellow butterfly about the size of a Marine Blue, but it did not alight and he could not get a good view.  Today Daniel made a trip back to the Red Barn to photograph What’s Buzzing Around the Baccharis? and he was lucky enough to get two images of the butterfly in question, a Dainty Sulphur,
Nathalis iole, that was nectaring a few feet from the ready camera.  Julian Donahue sent an email to local fold on August 23, 2012 with this information:  “Hi all,  Thought you might be interested in a sighting this afternoon: a Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) nectaring on a variety of flowers in my front yard.  First time I’ve seen this southern migrant here in several years. Too windy and warm to get a picture before it departed, but keep an eye out for a small yellow butterfly with lots of black on the upperside of the forewing that shows through the wing when the butterfly is at rest.  Julian.”  This photo substantiates Julian’s August sighting.

Dainty Sulphur

Here is the second photo.

Dainty Sulphur

Subject: I Think It’s A Moth Caterpillar
Location: Manitoba
September 30, 2012 8:08 am
Dear Someone,
After a party when we were saying goodbye to the last guest, he found a big, fat, beige caterpillar,to me it looked like a worm but I looked in my caterpillar books ,nope I didn’t find him he has a fake eye on his but and his head comes in and out it’s nasty in so many ways. I put him in a worm farm and gave him some strawberry leaves and he hasn’t eaten…for a day. but he’s been going under the soil and sitting there its about 1cm deep. Sept.30 2012
Signature: The Sandersons

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Sandersons,
This is the caterpillar of an Achemon Sphinx.  According to The Sphingidae of the Americas website, it is rare in Manitoba.  We will contact Bill Oehlke so that he can record your sighting.
  The behavior you describe indicates this individual is preparing to pupate, which they do underground.  Caterpillars lose interest in eating prior to metamorphosis and they search for a suitable location.  Pupating underground enables the Achemon Sphinx to survive the harsh northern winters.

Subject: Green leaf colored and shaped ”Moth”
Location: Houston, TX
September 29, 2012 5:39 pm
I saw this ”Moth” clinging to the top of a chain linked fence at a place where I shop. I thought it was a green leaf, until it flapped it’s wings. The edges were browned and it had a long and wide greenish tail. It’s belly was white. I am familiar with a few moths, but have never seen one like this. Can you tell me what it was I had seen?
Signature: Very Curious in Houston

Luna Moth

Dear Very Curious in Houston,
This is a female Luna Moth.  Hopefully she has mated and can find a place to lay her eggs.

Subject: Any idea what this is?
Location: Flagstaff Az
September 29, 2012 11:08 am
took this picture by a small lake in Flagstaff Az in August 2012.
Signature: Jon G

Mating  Bluets

Hi Jon,
These are mating Damselflies, and they appear to be Tule Bluets based on photos posted to BugGuide.  They might also be some other species of Bluet in the genus
Enallagma, which according to BugGuide, contains at least 35 North American species which look very similar to one another.