Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mylitta crescent ~ 09/02/10 ~ Harkins Slough

female Mylitta crescent
female Phyciodes mylitta mylitta

As I visited a friend where she works at an organic farm, I was extremely pleased to see numerous butterflies next to the fields. The farm owner does not use Btk. I once killed an entire stock of cabbage whites (don't ask why I was raising these butterflies) by feeding them washed, organic cabbage from the grocer after depleting my home-grown supply. Many people don't realize "organic" may still mean pesticides are used. Btk is a very popular biological pesticide. To read more of my rambling thoughts on this, check out this other post.

I find crescent butterflies very difficult to distinguish between species, because the wing patterns are highly variable within species. I was tempted to call this the montana subspecies of the field crescent (P. campestris aka P. pulchella - again, why is there a need to rename species already described?). However, besides the obvious elevation difference, Glassberg notes field crescents have dark brown or black antennal tips, which is not the case with my specimen above.

11 comments:

Bill S. said...

Like you I have trouble identifying all the different species of butterflies. But that does not stop me from enjoying them. Mostly I am a bird person.

Thanks.

Janet said...

I don't even try with the little flutterbys - just happy to see them.
Heck, I've even gotten lazy about the birds in my middle age and half the time settle for "swallow sp" or sparrow sp" :-)

Nature ID said...

Thanks, Bill & Janet, for your comments. The whole point of my blog is to encourage me to look up things and learn bits here and there outside of my comfort zone. Unfortunately, lately I've mainly captured pictures of plants or animals which I have no idea or clue on how to search for an ID, hence my relative lack of new posts.

skepticalmoth said...

Welcome to butterfly taxonomy! hahaha. Be a bit wary of Glassberg, aside from his wackadoo ideals, he sometimes randomly chooses not to believe in certain subspecies. His field marks can be helpful sometimes, but they fail to address current views held by the rest of the butterfly community (without supplying ample evidence to make this a legit. dissent)

Likely, campestris was a name applied falsely after pulchella was already named. Names change constantly, and new species are always found that seem to change the game. You should see the mess of the square dotted blue! I think they are coming up on 60 subspecies...(bangs head against wall).

skepticalmoth said...

Welcome to butterfly taxonomy! hahaha. Be a bit wary of Glassberg, aside from his wackadoo ideals, he sometimes randomly chooses not to believe in certain subspecies. His field marks can be helpful sometimes, but they fail to address current views held by the rest of the butterfly community (without supplying ample evidence to make this a legit. dissent)

Likely, campestris was a name applied falsely after pulchella was already named. Names change constantly, and new species are always found that seem to change the game. You should see the mess of the square dotted blue! I think they are coming up on 60 subspecies...(bangs head against wall).

skepticalmoth said...

umm... don't know why it was posted twice! oops

Nature ID said...

No worries, Chris, about the duplicate comments. I'm trying to scarf down my lunch while catching up on my neglected blog and I'm sure I have a few typos. Glassberg is indeed a bit "wackadoo", huh? I frequently find myself in laughing fits after reading some off-the-wall thing he wrote. I think I met him years ago in a previous life (not the Shirley MacLaine type, but the 4 jobs ago kind). I do think his Butterflies through Binoculars was revolutionary for its time 17 years ago and for that I'm grateful to him. Hey, I apparently like banging my head against any available wall, too.

skepticalmoth said...

Glassberg has a very, very anti-collecting opinion. He believes that every butterfly potentially has the genes that may save that species from extinction, and killing it is a grave crime against nature. He constantly discourages even children from collecting insects - which makes me roll over in my future grave. Glassberg himself probably collected as a child! In the binocular series they also adopt the NABA standardized common names list, which is a list compiled arbitrarily and ignores most recent peer-reviewed science. It gives me a headache.

He also is kinda tricky, selling his book as approved by the NABA - of which he was the president and approved his own book. slimy.

Nature ID said...

LOL! Tell me how you really feel, Mr. Grinter. So, if you're anti-Glassberg and anti-NABA, which book would you recommend for the casual butterfly observer in CA? Not everyone has the time, nor gets paid like you, to pay attention to the potentially 60 subspecies of a small blue butterfly.

skepticalmoth said...

Hahahah well, just to be clear, I don't get paid to be a lepidopterist- all of my working hours are spent with flies! So, unfortunately, all of my moths get squeezed into my free time just like everyone else.

I think there is a place for Glassberg and NABA, the guides are a great tool for those with casual interest. I just think the anti-science standpoint of the association is doing a great disservice. I would love to hand out a free guide on lep science and collecting to everyone who purchases a BTB guide!

For socal, you should find the "butterflies of southern california". It's been out of print for years, but always pops up on ebay for about $20. There is also the butterflies of the SF Bay, the Kaufman butterflies book, and the Peterson guide for the west (it's just OK).

The best tome for all of America would be the James A Scott "Butterflies of North America".

Nature ID said...

Thanks for replying, Chris. You're a fly guy; that explains a lot. I'll look up those books.