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.
Where? Well you already know we’re in Arizona. Just an hour and a half west of Phoenix, in that arroyo (dry creek bed) that I visited a couple of times, and almost lost it all to heat exhaustion (didn’t use my cell when I realized I was going down, that male stupidity ( Guilty! ), not wanting to inconvenience 911, when I thought that Brooklyn here had been through deadlier scraps . . . .).
I loved that arroyo, in White Tank Mountains Regional Park. The good sign warned to stay away, do not enter, for among the reasons, flash floods apparently rage through, when it rains. I never ever saw anyone else in that rock-strewn arroyo bed. Hope the Statue of Limitations is now up?
Well, mother-in-law moved back to Brooklyn about 6 months ago, from Sun City West, and that was why I went there in the first place. I for years wanted to also visit Portal, Arizona as Vladimir Nabokov did in his pursuit of blue butterflies, in the southeastern Arizona mountain system that included the Chirichaua mountains, sp?). Never got that off my list, for not ever finding anyone to join/guide me to good destinations in those huge mountains.
So I reminisce, seeing this sweet, sweet memory from that gorgeous/deadly arroyo, and think, . . . Adios Arizona!
I was back in that wonderful arroyo, in White Tank Mountains Regional Park. Like thousands of us, I have a senior relative living near Phoenix, in Sun City West, and periodic trips there enable me to do some fieldwork.
The arroyo was its usual, dry as a bone, hot (hot at 7 A.M.), boulders everywhere, plus it had few plants, and very few of those were in flower.
Turns out that was sort of good for me. There were so few flowers about, that any and all fliers could be expected to be at those flowers, sooner or later. They almost had to.
This fly, I think it’s a fly, showed up. It must have been famished, for this wild creature allowed me to do my macro- approach, and I looked, liked, and shot away.
Not a butterfly, but an exotic winged beauty, no doubt. I examined it again, and surely the greatest aeronautical minds of MIT, Harvard, Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and Georgia Tech must have designed this one. No?