Ask The People Skipper

Skipper butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow in White Tank Mts., Regional Park,  AZ

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.


Arroyo Habitat

Arroyo in White Mountains Regional Park, Phoenix, AZ photographed by Jeff Zablow

Where you are “standing” in this photograph, is in an Arroyo in White Mountains Regional Park. Phoenix is just east of this site. Thirty years ago, the drive from Sun City west to this arroyo, passed 25 homes. Make this  drive now, some 30 minutes, and you pass thousands of homes, and the pressure on this lovely park’s existence is very challenging.

We see here a thriving xeric upgrade that forms the wall of the Arroyo. December, January and February have been very wet. The bounty of that moisture is this great show of wildflowers. They in turn were responsible for large numbers of butterflies.

I keep my eyes peeled for repeat wet winters in Arizona. There are so many Arizona butterflies that I haven’t yet introduced myself to, and these are Xeric butterflies that fly in that unique super dry habitat. It’s the same habitat where my earlier post warned, “Arroyo Spells Caution.” This is an environment where water is more valuable than gold or diamonds, and it’s where the same sun that soothed you in Pennsylvania might be much too hot in the arroyo.