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.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

First sighting of Western Pigmy Blue in Wiley Canyon

Saturday was warm (mid-70's) and sunny (October 21) so I decided to check out the activity in Wiley Canyon. Wiley Canyon is located in Santa Clarita off of the Old Road near Calgrove Boulevard. It is on the eastern edge of the Santa Susana Mountains. I saw 3 Buckeyes, 2 Umber Skipper, 2 Fiery Skippers, one unidentified small orange skipper and 1 Large Northern Skipper. I also saw 1 Ringlet, 1 Acmon Blue and to my surprise, 1 Western Pigmy Blue. I had never before seen a Western Pigmy Blue in Wiley Canyon. In addition, this one was relatively large. Both Blues were nectaring on the same plant. Pictures of both are attached so that you can compare size by looking at the size of the butterfly relative to the size of the flower.

Paul A. Levine