Friday, May 8, 2009

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.

No comments: