We met in a dry Arroyo in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix. I reflect back to that day, and first I remember how risky this was, for signs warn to not enter dry Arroyos, dry stream beds.
This Skipper butterfly found these flowers, among the few in bloom in this super dry habitat. I did see butterflies, actually quite a few, in that Arroyo. Problem was I knew much about eastern USA butterflies, and little about these Western ones. The good news, during those 4 or 5 trips to White Tank Mountains, while visiting my mother-in-law, I lucked out, sometimes seeing rare butterflies, as the Arizona Powdered-Skipper.
So I ask y’all, can you help in once and for all identifying this Arizona skipper, seen in this dry Arroyo? No other images taken, in that 94F hot place.
Those Emperors in that White Tank Mountain Regional Park in west central Arizona sure caught my attention. In a bone dry arroyo, they flew alone, short distances, and almost always returned to the same spot that they left moments before. They much resembled Hackberry Emperors and Tawny Emperor butterflies, but their behavior was so very different.
Closer approach revealed that they were Empress Leila butterflies, western USA cousins to the above cited Emperors. They were my 3rd Emperor butterfly, and I was pleased to meet them, very. They can be seen in New Mexico, Arizona and western Texas.
We will not be posting on wingedbeauity.com for a week or two, because I am moving to a new home in Macon, Georgia. Moving, as some of you know, is a bear, and near totally time consuming.
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.