Currently viewing the category: "Whites and Sulfurs"

Subject: More Sleepy Organge Butterflies?
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
January 21, 2013 2:03 am
Hello, I think we may be seeing more of the Sleepy Orange Butterflies. I should keep trying to find the name of this wildflower and plant it as ground cover if it isn’t noxious. The butterflies love it, and it’s hardy enough to endure cold night temps in the twenties and still thrive and bloom in January as soon as the afternoons warm up. The butterflies and wildflowers are amazingly resilient!
Signature: Ellen

Sleepy Orange

Hi Ellen,
It is nice to get the additional photo to supplement the image you sent in December of a Sleepy Orange.  We will request assistance with the plant identification from our readership.

Subject: Possibly an Orange Sulfur
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
January 21, 2013 1:05 pm
Here are some photos of one of the yellow butterflies that were flying near our yard yesterday. Is it an Orange Sulfur? I freely admit that the subtle differences in species are challenging! Sorry the photo of the flight is so blurry. Love your website. Thank you for any information.
Signature: Ellen

Orange Sulphur

Hi Ellen,
In our opinion, this is an Orange Sulphur or Alfalfa Sulphur,
Colias eurytheme, and the coloration is especially evident in the open winged photograph.  You can see BugGuidefor additional photos.

Orange Sulphur

Subject: Orange Sulfur, Perhaps
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
January 21, 2013 1:55 am
These lovely butterflies were enjoying the same tiny, white flowers as many others today. I think they may be Orange Sulfurs. Several flew in pairs. Beautiful weather, sun and warm temps this afternoon.
Signature: Ellen

Southern Dogface

Hi Ellen,
The smaller, blurry butterfly in the image with two individuals is some species of Sulphur, possibly and Orange Sulphur, but the larger butterfly and the one in the photo alone is a Southern Dogface, a species not very well represented on our site.  According to BugGuide, it can be identified because the:  “pattern of the upper forewing resembles a yellow “dog face” bordered by black, with a black circle forming the eye.”  Since the Southern Dogface in your photo is backlit, the pattern on the dorsal wing surface shows through nicely.

Southern Dogface and Sulphur

Subject: Another Sleepy Orange Butterfly?
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
December 12, 2012 2:15 pm
After two nights of hard freeze, a few butterflies have warmed up enough to fly in search of nectar today. Most are too elusive for me, but these seem to love the autumn sage so much that they ignore nosy amateur photographers. Is it another sleepy orange? Many thanks!
Signature: Ellen

Sleepy Orange

Hi again Ellen,
We concur that this is another winter form of the Sleepy Orange.

Subject: Many Yellow Butterflies Keeping Me from Work
Location: Coryell County, central Texas
December 4, 2012 3:22 pm
I’ve never tried to capture or identify the yellow butterflies that constantly seem to visit our yard, but today this seems so much more entertaining than sitting at the work table. 🙂 I don’t know if I have this one right, but I think it’s in the Pieridae family, perhaps a Mexican yellow, Eurema mexicana. I looked in Bug Guide and in Butterflies and Moths of North America. I’m so sorry it isn’t a better photo. The weather continues warm and partly cloudy here in central Texas.
Signature: Ellen

Sleepy Orange

Hi Ellen,
We like your attitude.  You properly identified the family, but we believe this is a winter form of the Sleepy Orange,
Lbaeis nicippe, based on this photo on BugGuideIt is described on BugGuide as being:  “A medium-sized Pierid with a rather slow flight, usually close to the ground. Upperside of wings flash a lovely burnt orange. Underside of wings have variable markings: in winter form, underside of hindwing is brick red, brown, or tan; in summer form it is orange-yellow. Diagonal brown markings on underside of hindwings are distinguishable in all variations.”

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.