Tucson AZ Week 13

Tucson has had a great butterfly spring, and my visit was timed to coincide with Tucson's Sabino Canyon spring butterfly count.  Kudos to Mary Klinkel and Fred Heath for organizing this annual affair, which tallied a record high 67 species!  

Thanks also to Dave Bartholomew of San Jose, who abandoned his wife Frances at the shopping mall to join me in the field.  Dave spotted an Erichson’s white-skipper flying among all those checkered-skippers in Sabino Canyon, and together we listed 46 species on count day, capped off by a black checkerspot at the upper end of Mt. Lemmon highway.

The next day I drifted south to Madera, Box, and Sycamore canyons, familiar locales from my birding years, but equally good for butterflies.  In Sycamore, bleary-eyed from scrutinizing white-barred skippers along the creek for something different, I was startled by a large butterfly which flushed from the creek bed, circled my head once, and disappeared into the nearby woods.  It figured to be a lost cause, but I pursued the intriguing bug, threading my way through brush and briar into an open glade, where, to my delight, a blackened bluewing, an Arizona rarity, straddled a small log. 

The mathematically-inclined among you have no doubt calculated that at this date (1/4 of the year) I should have counted a minimum 150 species to reach my 600 year-end goal.  However this straight-forward analysis is deceptive, because I’ve already ticked many common species, some of which fly all year.  In the spirit of fun, Bob Pyle has contributed a chart (see TOTALS menu above) comparing his well-documented (Mariposa Road) 2008 Big Year to my current effort.

Finally, thanks to Fred Heath (again) for ID confirmation of both Carus and Cestus skippers.  I welcome critical review of my ID photos (menu above) from any and all followers of this blog.  Many of the species-to-come will be new to me, so mistakes are possible, if not likely! 


New Species:  Two-tailed Swallowtail Papilio multicaudata, Desert Marble Euchloe lotta, Pima Orangetip Anthocharis cethura pima, 'Siva' Juniper Hairstreak Callophrys gryneus siva, Arizona Metalmark Calephelis arizonensis, Black Checkerspot Chlosyne cyneas, Fulvia Checkerspot Chlosyne fulvia, Sagebrush Checkerspot Chlosyne acastus, Tiny Checkerspot Dymasia dymas, Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa, Tropical Buckeye Junonia evarete, Red-spotted Purple Limenitis arthemis astyanax, Blackened Bluewing Myscelia cyananthe, Short-tailed Skipper Zestusa dorus, Desert Cloudywing Achalarus casica, Acacia Skipper Cogia hippalus, Golden-headed Scallopwing Staphylus ceos, Arizona Powdered-Skipper Systasea zampa, Sleepy Duskywing Erynnis brizo, Desert Checkered-Skipper Pyrgus philetas, Erichson's White-Skipper Heliopyrgus domicella, Orange Skipperling Copaeodes aurantiaca, Pahaska Skipper Hesperia pahaska, Carus Skipper Polites carus, White-barred Skipper Atrytonopsis pittacus, Cestus Skipper Atrytonopsis cestus, Sheep Skipper Atrytonopsis edwardsi 

New Species:  27     Total trip species:  163     Species Photographed:  149


Highlight Species: two-tailed tiger swallowtail, queen (TX), queen (FL)

(top) An ovipositing two-tailed tiger in Sabino Canyon, AZ.  From previous weeks, showing regional differences in the queen butterfly: Texas (middle) and Florida (bottom).

Papilio multicaudata
Danaus gilippus
Danaus gilippus
© Chris Tenney 2014