Wednesday, February 26, 2014

South Texas Satyr, a new (sort of) butterfly for the RGV

A paper published by Nick Grishin and Qian Cong sheds new light on the long time Carolina/Hermes Satyr confusion in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.  His evidence indicates that the old Carolina Satyr across the southern US actually consists of two, sometimes sympatric, almost identical species, Hermeuptychia sosybius and H. intricata.  While a satyrless gap exists across arid south Texas with our old RGV "Hermes" Satyr being a third species, Hermeuptychia hermybius.  Click here to see the paper.

So here's some photos of the South Texas Satyr.  In general it tends to have smaller, more variable ocelli than Carolina Satyr and the new Intricate Satyr of the southeastern US.  The brown bands on the hindwing tend to be wavier also.

While this may not be the end of the story, it does seem to make a bit more sense than our previous ambiguous situation.

Friday, February 21, 2014

National Butterfly Center, 2/21/14

With all the cold weather we've had this winter, it's been difficult to see ten species of butterflies.  But it got really hot yesterday with a strong southerly wind, followed by a weak cold front last night so I thought today might be a good day at the National Butterfly Center.  Turns out I was right.  The weather was perfect and I saw 43 species of butterflies, many new for the year.  Exciting for me was my first Goatweed Leafwing.  I think I've seen it before up north but it was my first for the Valley.

The rest of 'em were among our more common species.  I guess this beat up female Black Swallowtail was less common.

If Clouded Skippers were rare, we would get all excited about them.  The winter form is pretty sharp looking.

Many of our butterflies have a tropical look to them, but Orange Sulphur looks like something you would see up north.

Even during some pretty cold days this winter you could still find a Red Admiral.

Our two duskywings, Funerial and Mournful, often present ID problems.  Today all I saw at the NBC were Funerial Duskywing.

When I got home, the first thing I saw in the garden was a couple of Mournful Duskywings.  They are really different.