Friday, May 8, 2009

habitat ~ 05/08/09 ~ Pinnacles National Monument

Pinnacles National Monument - west entrance
May 8, 2009

smoky arches moth ~ 05/08/09 ~ Pinnacles

smoky arches moth
Drasteria fumosa

It sure is pretty! Noctuidae? It makes for an awesome Rorschach test. I see a horse's head like Chauvet Cave drawings in the dark part.

ps 10/14/10 -In the neighborhood of Hodges 8640?

pss 04/06/11 - This was one of first 5 posts on Nature ID. I originally posted it as an unknown moth. Thanks to the help of Chris Grinter of the Skeptical Moth, I now have corrected the ID above with embedded links.

variable checkerspot ~ 05/08/09 ~ Pinnacles

variable checkerspot butterfly on Brewer's ragwort / Brewer's butterweed
Euphydryas chalcedona on Packera breweri

From my days of butterfly monitoring in Ohio, I always found Euphydryas sp. (Baltimores in OH) to be "friendly" and extremely cute with their brightly colored antennal clubs. They are voracious nectarers, don't seem to mind being touched or held, and will often follow you down the path.

True to its "variable" common name, this butterfly's appearance is highly variable with a top view that can range from predominantly black to predominantly orange. It doesn't help when seeing them on the wing that the underside is equally patterned and gorgeously orange. Larvae feed in Indian paintbrushes. There's a slight chance this one is Euphydryas editha, but in other pics I think I can see white spots on the abdomen. Glassberg says Edith's checkerspots are often impossible to distinguish in the field from variable checkerspots.

Brewer's ragwort and variable checkerspots were extremely abundant along the Juniper Canyon Trail. See our eastside Pinnacles visit April 16, 2009 for variable checkerspot caterpillars.

CA forester ~ 05/08/09 ~ Pinnacles

Lepidoptera > Noctuidae > Agaristinae
(larva feed on elegant clarkia)

This initially stumped me. Since it was flying during the day and mud-puddling, I assumed it was a spread-winged skipper. Unfortunately, my pic isn't clear enough to show the antennal structure. I couldn't find it in my newly purchased Butterflies through Binoculars: The West by Jeffrey Glassberg (c) 2001. However, it looked so familiar to me that I pulled out all of my insect books and flipped through the plates. I finally found it in my 1908 edition of The Moth Book by W. J. Holland (c) 1903.

ps 05/23/14 - I'm giving my copy of The Moth Book to Paul Johnson at Pinnacles for all his help during my 2014 Prep Year LTBM Pinnacles project.