Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Easter Sunday (April 8) Field Trip

Please note that the field trip orinigally scheduled for Sunday April 8th to the Antelope Valley, meeting at Bob's Gap at 9 AM is being replaced with a butterfly trip to the West Fork trail in San Gabriel Canyon where a number of butterflies have been seen including the Soronan Blue. There were no nectar sources at Bob's Gap this past weekend and very butterflies.
There are two meeting places: 1) At 7:30 AM at the St Jude's Medical parking lot in Sylmar (see LANABA Calendar page for directions) 2) 8:45 AM at National Forest Infromation Center on Route 39 just north of Azuza just as Route 39 curves around tothe east and hits the San Gabriel River (this is shown on AAA maps) . From these places we will car pool to West Fork trail parking lot. Bring lunch and water.
---Best regards, Fred

Monday, March 19, 2007

I really didn’t have high expectations about this past weekend on an LA Audubon trip, as the Munroe’s (author of the Anza-Borrego book) were sending me e-mails telling me how bad it was. However this weekend was certainly was a lot better than last year when we saw only one Sara Orangetip It was actually better than I thought it would especially because we had no access to Plum Canyon this weekend, do to road repairs.
We started as usual at Yaqui Well and had lots of Becker’s White (more than I’ve seen here in several years) in and around the bladderpod. Funereal Duskywing was the only other butterfly there. Since we couldn’t go to Plum Canyon, after missing the Long-eared Owls at Tamarisk Grove, we proceeded to the sewage pond beyond Casa del Zorro and found Pygmy-Blue and Silvery Blue nectaring on the Arrowweed.
After this, on the Munroe’s suggestion, we went up to spot uphill with a spring. We got marvelous looks at Great Purple, Bramble and ‘Loki’ Juniper Hairstreaks, ‘Desert’ Mormon Metalmark and finally California Tortoiseshell all in one blooming Sugarbush. We also had Acmon and Silvery Blue in the area as well a couple of ‘Behr’s’ Mormon Metalmarks (one we fished out of the water between many Pacific Treefrogs of various colors) and another Funereal Duskywing. Pena Spring had more Funereals and another Bramble.
The next day on the hike up Borrego Palm Canyon, we added several Sara Orangetip and a single California Patch. The lizarding was excellent with many Chuckwalla’s (we think 8) on some low rocks across the stream, a Banded Rock Lizard, and some Small-Scaled Lizards (now called Black-tailed Brush Lizard). On the way down we had nice looks at a ewe. The Bebbia along the way looked in pretty good bloom and so I kept checking it. On the way down we saw two Wright’s Metalmarks on Bebbia. The one which Herb photographed about 5 years ago for our book was the last one I’d seen (and still the only one Herb ever had).
A Monarch flying around us at Christmas Circle rounded out the list at 15 species.

Join us LA-NABA this next weekend starting at 8 AM at the entrance to Yaqui Well in Anza-Borrego for another exciting butterfly adventure.
----Best regards, Fred

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Butterflies

Saturday, March 17

Hey, I saw the St. Patrick's Day butterfly aka Bramble Hairstreak on St. Patrick's Day! Lucky me! Also saw Sonora Blue, Spring Azure, Sara Orangetip, Western Tiger Swallowtail, CA Dogface, Common Ringlet, Funereal Duskywing and a day-flying moth with black and white markings.

There was water in the stream but not along side the trail. The butterflies were taking nectar from the chickweed flowers. There were snakes and lizards hidden in the grass stalking the butterflies.

Evey Canyon is off Mt. BaldyRoad just north of San Antonio Dam.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Tigers

Another common butterfly in Southeast Asia is the Plain Tiger. It is also in the danaidae family. It was particularly abundant in the Taipei Botanical Gardens when I was there in the end of October. It was very interesting because the Gardens has large pictures of the Common Tiger of which I didn't see any and no pictures of the Plain Tiger which was very common. Unlike the Common Tiger (see prior entries into this Blog), there is no special marking on the veins on either the the top or under surface of the wings. In one part of the Gardens, the Plain Tigers were abundant and I found one lonely Milkweed. It had not yet bloomed and it only had 10 leaves. I was curious as to whether any of the butterflies had laid any eggs. While every leaf did not have an egg, others had two and one leaf even had 3 eggs. In all, I counted a total of 10 eggs on this one plant. I am sure that there had to be other Milkweed elsewhere in the Gardens but in the couple of hours that I had available, I didn't locate them (I was too busy taking pictures of the butterflies that I did see). I am sure that when all the caterpillars emerge, more than a few will be disappointed and hungry.

Paul A. Levine

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Common Tiger - upper surface

This is a continuation of the earlier blog on Monarchs and Common Tigers. This is the view of the upper surface. The dorsal surface of the Common Tiger has very heavy vein markings. This was consistent in all the butterflies that I saw.

Paul A. Levine

Monarchs and Common Tigers

I recently returned from a business trip to Thailand and Republic of China (Taiwan). For my two days in Bangkok, I had a total of about 4 hours in the middle of the day when I was not involved in meetings. On one of those days, I took myself to a local park. The temperature ws 90 degree Fahrenheit and the humidity was 90%. I really had expected to see a much larger variety of butterflies but I didn't. I saw Lemon and Peacock Pansy's, some whites that I have not yet identified and literally hundreds of Common Tigers. There was also a rare Plain Tiger but that will be another blog. These were the six legged variety, not the four legged variety. They were also not as frightening as the mammalian tigers and I was able to get up close to take some pictures. I was absolutely amazed at how close they are to our Monarchs and I am embedding pictures of both the top and undersides of the Common Tiger and the Monarch so that they can be compared.

I have a book on Indian Butterflies published in 1957 (by M.A. Wynter-Blythe) and he lists the scientific name for the Common Tiger as Danais Plexippus - this sounds very familiar. The two bottom pictures are of the Monarch and both were photographed in the Santa Clarita Valley, one on Buddlea in my back yard. The top picture is of the Common Tiger showing the undersurface. Apparently the Blog will only allow me to post three pictures. I will do another with the upper surface of the Common Tiger.

Paul A. Levine

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Monarchs return with Santa Anas

Ken Clark sent in this image (shot 10/21/06) from his amazing batch of fall monarchs - "his best year ever." Ken estimated 200-300 monarchs hatched in his yard in East San Fernando Valley near Hansen Dam. Also on the monarch front, Walt Sakai gave a very interesting update on our California monarchs at the October 2006 NABA-LA meeting in Santa Monica. Thank you Walt!
Steve Kutcher reports (Nov. 3, 2006) that monarchs are busy in his yard in Arcadia, he assumes because the Santa Ana winds are pushing them west to the coast. Today (Nov. 5) we had a female laying eggs in our yard in Sherman Oaks (right as I was trying to prune the raggedy milkweeds - so much for that now!). We released 63 monarchs in Sept/Oct, from 2 or 3 females that visited starting in late August. We also had a few lonely males that moved on, but not before they gorged on the Mexican Sunflowers!
(Update/January 2007: Monarchs started hatching in the New Year, and we have about 100 spread across three cages. Most nights the cages are brought inside. Some monarchs are hitching a ride to Ventura with a friend to be closer to their wintering grounds!)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cloudless Sulphur in Malibu

While the buttterflying is winding down for the season in the Santa Monica Mountains, there is always time for a surprise sighting. Yesterday while driving on PCH near Point Dume, I noticed a male Cloudless Sulphur flying around some large cassia (Senna sp?) bushes.
If I have the time I always check a cassia at the entrance to Sycamore Canyon Campground for this species where I had seen one once in late summer. After the PCH sighting, I checked this spot out again, but no luck this time.
Although cassia isn't native to the Santa Monica Mountains, (or any of the cismontane Los Angeles area for that matter), many folks have planted this genus in the area attracting Cloudless Sulphurs and if we are lucky Sleepy Orange, as it is the foodplant of both species. Although it is relatively easy to see a Cloudless Sulphur at 45 MPH on PCH, the smaller Sleepy Orange could well be missed. Maybe next weekeend, I will have time to stop and park and check out those cassias a little more thoroughly.

Wind Wolves Preserve

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to visit the Wind Wolves Preserve on the far SW end of the Central Valley with a group from the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum.

There is an amazing amount of water on the preserve and lots of blooming rabbit brush right now. There is still the occasional milkweed plant throughout the grasslands hosting visiting Monarchs. The preserve has year round water in San Emigdio Canyon and springs throughout it's 95,000 acres.

The following butterflies were seen at the visitor's education center on rabbit brush in just a few minutes of looking. There is a free flowing year-round stream nearby.

Anise Swallowtail 1 Fresh.
Common Buckeye 30+ From fresh to very worn. In size from quite small to large. Many other individuals seen throught the day on rabbit brush.
Gray Hairstreak 4 All very worn.
Checkered White? 1 Very fresh with folded fore and hind wing tips. See photo.
Monarch 5 Also saw many individual Monarchs on the wing throughout the day in many locations on the back roads within the preserve.
Grass Skippers 3 They were three distinct species, but I didn't have the time to ID them.

I'm sure some time spent at the stream crossings and at springs would have produced more species, but I wasn't able to do that. Too bad.

Wind Wolves Preserve is an amazingly beautiful place. Though not open to the general public, one can arrange weekend reservations or best yet go with a specific interest group. The biodiversity there is amazing. Perhaps LANABA can arrange a field trip there sometime in the future. I think it would be very worthwhile.

Mary Shepherd

Sunday, October 22, 2006


The butterflies love this heat, 86 degrees in the shade! In my small Monterey Park garden space around noon today, there were monarch, giant swallowtail, cabbage white, fiery skipper, marine blue, gulf fritillary, and painted lady. In Monrovia Canyon on Friday there were California sister and funereal duskywing. CA sisters have been very prolific in all canyons this year.