Empress Leilia Butterfly

Empress Leila Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at White Tanks Mountains, AZ. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

The rock strewn arroyo bed was as dry as the proverbial bone. It was September 12th at White Tank Mountain Regional Park west of Phoenix, Arizona, and Nectaring plants were very hard to find. Though 9:40 in the morning and of course with full Arizona sun, Empress Leila butterflies were here and there, flying and perching, flying and perching. Their host plant is spiny hackberry.

Astercocampa leilia are similar to, and closely related to Hackberry butterflies (see our Hackbery Emperor posts). Photographing here was difficult. When we spotted the butterfly, our approach had to overcome huge rocks. How these rocks were randomly placed in that arroyo is a tantalizing exercise in Physics.

As they are territorial like the Tawny and Hackberry Emperors, persistence with Empress Leila butterflies paid off. That is if it fled my approach, I knew it wouldn’t fly much beyond a definable perimeter.

Heat, boulders, and nearly unapproachable Leilias made for good memories, and a fair enough photo.

The heat, the heat, the heat.


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  1. Pingback: Slim Picking For This Empress « Becoming is Superior to Being

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