Mexican Fritillary Engaged

Mated Mexican fritillary butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

“Almost always a brighter orange-brown than Variegated Fritillary” writes Jeffrey Glassberg about Mexican Frits in his A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America (Princeton University Press, 2017). This was one of a pair of mated Mexican Fritillaries. The other one remains hidden under those cool wings. We were in the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, some 2 miles north of the U.S. – Mexican border.

When I saw them, just some inches above the ground, my friend shared that they were Mexican Fritillaries! That got my attention, for they so look like Variegated fritillaries. Glassberg’s field guide highlighted the difference between the species. Mexican Frits lack much detail in the center of their dorsal hindwings, and they are so much “brighter” than Variegated.

I spent several unforgettable days in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, each day making the acquaintance of many Lifers for me. There were times too, when others in the NBC shared that folks just a little earlier had seen Dingywings and other butterflies that I’ve not ever seen before. No regret there, for I was a Happy Boy! in the LRGValley. I came to see and I saw!

Jeff

Ever Seen an Arizona Powdered Skipper?

Arizona Powdered Skipper Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ

That River Grand Valley trip, a week at the National Butterfly Center, Bensten State Park and the nearby ‘Wall,’ dished up dozens of butterfly species new to me. A constant rush-rush-rush of butterflies I had never seen before. I mean, as I work to recall what we saw, and without instantaneous digital feedback, I am now and then gifted with a recollection, like the one I had yesterday, that a mental vignette: Not only did I want to see the uncommon Mexican Fritillary, but my luck cashed in, when I saw and shot away at a fresh pair of mated Mexican fritillaries!

So now I spend good time recalling so many of the butterflies of the USA that I have been fortunate to have seen, and shot.

High on the list of what Jeff’s seen is this one, a fresh Arizona Powdered Skipper, met just where it should have been, some years ago, in a bone dry arroyo, in White Mountain Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. I found this one, on a boiling hot day in the desert, in these low mountains, and if you can keep a secret, in the bed of the arroyo (where I actually should not have been).

I count myself among the 0.0014% of Americans who have ever had the pleasure of a meet-up with the Arizona Powdered Skipper. Am I a Lucky Boy, or what!

Jeff