Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Butterflies of Trinity Alps

Wouldn't that make an entertaining reality show? Gobs of butterflies fluttered away last weekend- congregating at the base of a shallow stream bed, flocking the blooming asclepias, flying by your head just to say hello. It felt like being in the Butterfly Pavilion at the Conservatory of Flowers, only for real!

I'm pretty sure this lovely is a California Sister, or Adelpha bredowi. According to my extremely helpful "California Insects" book, the larvae feed on oaks and are found in "the foothills and middle elevations of mountains throughout the state."

Here's an Acmon blue, or Plebejus acmon. How sweet!

I think these are Lorquin's Admirals. Well, I certainly admire them! They were resting in groups at the base of a creek and would flutter about when someone walked by (or attempted to take a photo for that matter!). How does Vanessa cardui do it?!

And now I've saved the best for last. As we left the campsite, I asked the boys, "can we please please puh-lease stop at the asclepias patch on the side of the road?" They actually complied (gladly!) and we came upon a butterfly city! No Monarchs, which is what I expected, but many Western Tiger Swallowtails. They were so big, they looked like beautiful flying monsters of the sky!

Here's what I think is a Common Hairstreak, or Stymon melinus hanging out with a happy beetle. Look at her tails! I can't wait to plant some asclepias of my own so I can stake out all the amazing pollinators with my camera! Anyone have asclepias planting advice? I've never had much luck (despite following the strict 'no summer water' rules)

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