Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A last Hurrah of the Desert Broom shrubs in Madera Canyon

On the first of November I went back to Madera Canyon and found just a few of the Desert Broom bushes still blooming. The weather was perfect this time: sunny and not particularly windy.
Many more butterflies than last time congregated mainly on the few male shrubs that still had something to offer.

Apodemia palmeri (Palmer's Metalmark)

Anthanassa texana (Texan Crescent)
Hemiargus ceraunus

Asterocampa leilia (Empress Leilia on a female shrub

Libytheana carinenta (American Snout )
Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady)
Junonia coenia (Common Buckeye)
Atlides halesus (Great Purple Hairstreak)
Chlorostrymon simaethis (Silver-Banded Hairstreak)
This green Silver-banded HS was a first for me, so I asked my friends Mary Kinkel and Fred Heath for confirmation and background info. Mary confirmed that we have a pretty 'good flight' of these pretty guys this year.
Fred wrote: The Silver-banded Hairstreak uses Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum sp?). This plant is  a rare and very local plant in extreme southern AZ. It is found in some local gardens, for example the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where I’ve found a few Silver-banded in the last couple of years. There may be more than we know locally , but the local botanists have not found it. There is also the possibility that they are using something else locally. The Soapberry and Hopbush, two common plants here are in the same family, but do not have the same type of hollow fruit with the seeds inside which the caterpillars are known to eat. Jim Brock says it wouldn’t surprise him if they are using something altogether different. Interestingly, Jim Brock and Bill Beck have Balloon Vines in their gardens and have found Ceraunus Blue caterpillars happily feeding on them. I guess the butterflies just don’t read the books.
Fred Heath

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