Friday, July 25, 2014

Mylitta crescent ~ 07/25/14 ~ Sierra Valley

female Mylitta crescent nectaring on Canada thistle
female Phyciodes mylitta mylitta nectaring on Cirsium arvense

Note the stronger contrast of the female underside (ventral) markings compared to the male Mylitta crescent.  The same can be said above (dorsal), too - see below.

female (brighter, ~middle of pic), male (more solid in color and at the bottom of the pic)
Mylitta crescent

Melissa blue ~ 07/25/14 ~ Sierra Valley

Lycaeides melissa (aka Plebejus melissa)

female Melissa blue
Lycaeides melissa (aka Plebejus melissa)

I'm thrilled I was able to take a close look at Melissa blues, which were flying with look-alike acmon blues at Art's Sierra Valley site.  These are L. melissa melissa, but closer to home we might have L. melissa paradoxa.  I'm hoping to find Melissa in Monterey Co. (only an old historical record) and at Pinnacles in San Benito Co. (never been reported).  Years ago, I visited the Kitty Todd Preserve in northwest Ohio the year after they reintroduced the endangered Karner blue (L. melissa samuelis, aka Plebejus samuelis).  I remember it being sandy under oaks with plenty of lupine, so I'm thinking Fort Ord might be as good as any for potential Melissa habitat.  Who knows?  I'll definitely be taking a closer look at every acmon I think I see.

Given my proclivity to mainly get pictures of only the underside (ventral) wing surfaces, I attempted to determine sex based on the amount of fading of the orange spots towards the apex of the forewing, with females more heavily marked with orange.  However, I've been assured that this is not entirely reliable, and it's best to just look at overall ground color, with a bluish tinge for the males and a hint of brown for the females, a subtle difference compared to those same respective colors on the topside (dorsal).

ox-eyed satyr ~ 07/25/14 ~ Sierra Valley

female ox-eyed satyr nectaring on Canada thistle

Like so many of Art's Sierra Nevada butterflies, I would have never gotten this ID without his patient help.  This ox-eyed satyr is one of at least 25 subspecies of the common wood-nymph!  Here I am just trying to figure out the difference between the common and the Great Basin wood-nymph (Cercyonis sthenele).  Gah!  Additional posts to come...