Tuesday, April 8, 2014

silvery blue ~ 04/08/14 ~ Pinnacles

 silvery blue nectaring upside down

He must have the hiccups he's trying cure?  Or the violet nectar is very potent, and this is a drunk butterfly?  Take your pick.  I was entertained watching this lone blue butterfly land horizontally across the topmost petal, extend his proboscis, turn down towards the center of the flower (either clockwise or counter-clockwise), and stick his head in as far as possible for a long draught (enough for me to get numerous pictures), and then wipe his proboscis off on a petal before moving on to another violet.  Wash and repeat.  So often, butterflies are quite dainty about their sipping, gently using their feet to taste.  Not this fellow, his proboscis led the way, and he was drinking with gusto.  I was a little surprised he didn't ever topple over. 

Johnny jump up / California golden violet
Viola pedunculata

So, naturally, I tried to stick the flash up in there, too, to see what the fuss was all about.  The violets are by no means tall, even though the flowers do, indeed, jump up away from the leaves.  Holding the camera down there facing a 45° angle up is tricky.  I'm starting to rue the day last fall when we discovered the macro feature on our 10-year-old point-and-shoot.  I want to do everything in macro now.  Macro, macro, macro!  Mwahahaha... but, it burns the battery quickly.  The dark nectar guides are stunning.  I bet they taste sweet to little feet (and probosces).

cute butterfly butt (view from above)

As a final note, the famously extinct Xerces blue butterfly is considered by some to have been a ssp. of Glaucopsyche lygdamus.  Then, there's also the federally endangered Palos Verdes blue butterfly (G. lygdamus palosverdesensis), which is being reintroduced, as Brent @ Breathing Treatment knows first-hand.


biobabbler said...

Interesting. Makes me think of the Callippe silverspot butterfly (endangered, SUPER restricted range in Bay Area, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callippe_Silverspot_Butterfly) ) that depends upon Viola pedunculata to raise its babies. Pretty sure PINN is well outside its range, but it might be fun to keep an eye peeled for any related species. And there is SO very little we understand about "the nature" it's always good to pay attention.

Does your camera has a way to NOT autofocus, to run manually? That can save battery power. I didn't realize that initially and the lens focusing was driving me bonkers. Then figured out how to shut that down & focus manually = battery power saver & reduced the profanity coming out of my mouth when trying to photograph something tiny. Macros ARE magical, though, right? =)

Katie (Nature ID) said...

bb, Speyeria callippe is found at Pinnacles, but I don't know which ssp. In fact, I may have seen one Thursday (yes, 2nd visit in 1 week), even though it's a little early for them. I have mixed feelings around the political pressure in CA to name ssp., in my opinion primarily to obtain endangered status and legal protection for the land. As an example, Smith's blue is such a mess.

Before Sonja died, we were just beginning to figure out how to rear an extirpated Speyeria sp. to reintroduce to OH. No one ever claimed it was an extinct ssp.; it was generally accepted that what was found in neighboring states was the same. We even got a fancy incubator for the project. It was like a fridge, but exact opposite with timers, heat, lights, and vents. However, I found my bedroom at home with screened windows and nylon stockinged containers worked just as well for raising leps. I called it my butterfly love shack.

The manual focus on the camera is extremely tricky and doesn't work all that well. Macro does rock when it works.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

I'd like to add that many landowners refuse to allow lepidopterists/naturalists on their property, even going so far as to have security with guns (I'm not exaggerating), over fears something listed with be found and then they'll have to comply to stricter laws.