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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.