There are three (3) closely related Emperor butterflies in the United States, the Asterocampa butterflies.
The most commonly seen Emperor is the Hackberry Emperor, Asterocampa celtis. It found in 40 states or more, mostly absent from the northwestern USA. Had one, a fresh one, in my yard, yesterday.
Less common is the Tawny Emperor, Asterocampa clyton, usually seen east of the Mississippi River, ands in 4 states west of the River.
Less common again is the Empress Leilia, Asterocampa leilia, known in 3 states bordering Mexico.
This one seen here is an Empress Leila. One of the amazing butterflies that I saw in that certain arroyo (boulder strewn dry creek bed). We played tag for quite a while until it finally relented, and agreed to allow me a handful of camera clicks. The Leilias I saw on those several trips to the arroyo never opened their wings for me, preventing me from sharing whether or not they were male or females.
Spending any time in an arroyo is not a good idea. A flash storm miles away can send a wall of water crashing towards you, and . . . . Now that I quietly reflect on that, I kinda feel like . . . .
White Tank Mountains Regional Park, Arizona.
How much is too much? It’s been quite a long time since I spotted this skipper butterfly in a dry arroyo in the White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. There weren’t many butterflies there at any given time, but I came to realize that almost any butterfly you saw in that other-worldly habitat . . . might be new and exhilarating!
Almost all I saw there, on many trips to that surreal arid region, refused to tolerate close approach. This view shall have to suffice, though it’s pretty good, and the Fuji Velvia 50 slide film I used is always color true.
So much time has gone by, and now I am determined to take a stab at it. Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)? Ken? Jeffrey? The NABA cognoscenti? Curt?
That bone-dry arroyo was working just fine for me. I’d found this dry creek bed on an earlier trip to White Tank Mountains Regional Park, just west of Phoenix. I have a vague recollection of a sign posted near the arroyo, something about not entering the arroyo ever, for a flash downpour miles away could prove deadly here. In retrospect, I might have honored the sign, but . . . hours of searching White Tank produced almost nothing. When I drove to a 3-car parking area, and happened on the arroyo, that earlier year, I descended down to its bed, and Bingo! Butterflies, not lots of them, but there were plants in bloom here and there, and I tried waiting at a plant with flowers, and almost every wait yielded, drew butterflies.
This one flew in to these diminutive blooms, and I knew at once, my first ever Queen butterfly. We don’t have them in the places I lived in before (Brooklyn, Queens NY, Long Island NY, Sheffield Mass or Pittsburgh). He was a dashing Queen and I decided on not gambling, not moving in with my Macro- lens, to get the full benefit of those magical 18″ from this large butterfly.
I planted my feet, loved that this was a tall wildflower, and I shot away. This image was captured with Fuji slide film and yes, his color was as rich as you see. That deep blue Arizona sky added to my delight when this slide was returned to me.
The wildflower? I still do not know its name. How do they flower despite many weeks of xeric dry 97F weather? I think they have very deep roots, and take moisture several feet down in the arroyo bed.
My first Queen.
I so admire those who share rare butterflies on Facebook. I went to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in December 2017, and Whoopee!! I had several fantastic days, seeing butterflies that there’s no way you could expect to see, in a year or in a decade. Examples? Erato heliconian, Red rim, Tropical greenstreak, Malachite and Gold-bordered hairstreak.
Sharing images and anecdotes? I enjoy doing that. Especially when the butterfly’s like this one, a rare and little seen Arizona arroyo (dry stream bed) butterfly, the Arizona Powdered Skipper.
Where’d we meet? In that arroyo I found in White Tank Regional Park, 35 minutes southwest of Sun City West. Won’t discuss the advisability of those hours scouring the long arroyo, partly because working that boulder strewn bone-dry arroyo nearly cost me, everything.
Pleased to share one that you might never ever see, I am.
This was a Wow! of a find. White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. I pulled over my rental car, and began exploring the dry, cactus rich land at the foothills of the mountains.
I was not sure what I might find in that foreign (to me) vast space. This Orangetip flew in and chose to rest here. Me? What? Aren’t you far, far, too far away from the northeast, to be a Falcate Orangetip?
I shot away, and was beyond Happy! to discover that I had met my First Desert Orangetip, and that he was as juicy orange as those the Orange Julius’ folks got at that corner of East 86th Street on New York’s tony Upper Eastside.
I look at this capture of mine now, with some satisfaction, that was so rich of color, smack dab in the middle of the bone dry desert.