Sunday, June 27, 2021

Epic Okanogan Trip

I recently spent several days in Okanogan County, Washington. It was a glorious and highly productive trip with 72-73 species over the entire vacation, including two new to me (Polites themistocles and P. peckius) and two I hadn’t seen in around ten years (Boloria selene and B. bellona). This was only the second time in my life I’ve visited Moses Meadows, which I did twice on this trip. I also spent a lot more time exploring the higher elevation areas west of the Sinlahekin, which yielded a few more data points for Boloria freija, including the surprise of finding a female at Salmon Meadows! Freija has never been recorded there, a heavily surveyed location in WA.

A few things to note about the following list:
  • I grouped some locations into general areas with elevation ranges to help shorten this long list. Detailed data with coordinates were sent to Jon Pelham for the WA database.
  • Quantities with male or female indicate individuals verified by catch/released or collected, or occasionally those seen closely or obviously dimorphic (like blues).
  • Numbers with “unk” indicate those seen clearly but not caught.
  • Species with no number are those where at least one was seen but I forgot to write down a total count or otherwise can’t remember how many there were in that spot.
  • Numbers greater than 10-20 are mostly estimates.
  • Taxonomy is per the Pelham Catalogue (plus segregates for finer resolution of some).
  • Regarding the question marks on Celastrina lucia” and “echo” larvae found at the Sinlahekin, these and other potential C. lucia are currently being studied by me and others in WA. I won’t go into all the details here, but due to a few factors we are questioning if C. lucia may actually occur at the Sinlahekin and a few other sites in WA. I am rearing several larvae to help investigate this and will post more about it at a later time.

June 12, 2021

Kittitas County, WA: Ringer South Trail, Ringer Loop Rd, elev 1430'
Euphilotes columbiae (Columbia Blue) 2♂
Phyciodes mylitta mylitta (Mylitta Crescent) 1♂


June 13, 2021

Grant County, WA: Gas station in Grand Coulee at Hwy 155 and 174, elev 1490'
Sphinx drupiferarum (Wild Cherry Sphinx) 1♂


Sphinx drupiferarum (Wild Cherry Sphinx), waiting for me at a gas station in Grand Coulee, WA


It was fairly cloudy with only intermittent sun this day, so total butterflies were low.

Okanogan County, WA: Lyman Lake-Moses Mountain Road, elev 3860'-4040'
Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing) 11♂
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 6♂
Colias interior (Pink-edged Sulphur) 1♂
Callophrys eryphon Columbia Basin seg. (Western Pine Elfin) 3 unk
Icaricia saepiolus rufescens (Greenish Blue) 10♂
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 4♂
Chlosyne palla blackmorei (Northern Checkerspot) 1♂
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 3♂
Coenonympha california columbiana (Ochre Ringlet) 1♂
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 1♂ 1♀

Okanogan County, WA: Moses Meadows, edges along loop road, elev. 3470'-3600'
Colias eriphyle (Eriphyle's Sulphur) 1♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 1♂
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1♂
Coenonympha california columbiana (Ochre Ringlet) 1♂


Southwest corner of Moses Meadows, Okanogan County, WA

Okanogan County, WA: Salmon Meadows, vicinity of S end, elev 4460'-4480'
Anthocharis julia sulfuris (Julia Orangetip) 1♀
Euchloe ausonides transmontana (Large Marble) 3♂
Callophrys sheridanii newcomeri (Sheridan's Green Hairstreak) 1♀ 1 unk
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 1♂ 1♀ 20 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 15♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 2 unk
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 1♀ 1 unk


Salmon Meadows (looking north), Okanogan County, WA


Salmon Meadows (looking west), Okanogan County, WA


Callophrys sheridanii newcomeri (Sheridan's Green Hairstreak) at Salmon Meadows


June 14, 2021
Too cloudy and cool (big thunderstorms the night before) for butterflies except the occasional swallowtail, so spent the day checking out conditions around the Sinlahekin and taking some landscape photos.


Dogbane going crazy in a thinned and prescribed burned area on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area


Conners Lake, Sinlahekin Wildlife Area


View north from Jay Hill Camp, Sinlahekin Wildlife Area


Sinlahekin Creek, Sinlahekin Wildlife Area


June 15, 2021
Still chasing the sun this day, but conditions improving, and the mud left from all the thunderstorms was attracting more butterflies!

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, NE Fish Lake, elev 1800'
Pterourus multicaudata pusillus (Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail) 1♂

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of NW Fish Lake, elev 1790'-1820'
Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing)
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 2♂
Amblyscirtes vialis (Common Roadside Skipper) 1♂
Pterourus multicaudata pusillus (Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail)
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail)
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail)
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue) 1♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue)
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral)
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 1♂


Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper), my very first one!

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, meadows N of Conners Lake, elev 1490'-1500'
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 5♂ 1♀ 15 unk
Boloria selene Pacific NW seg. (Silver-bordered Fritillary) 2♂
Phyciodes cocyta pascoensis (Northern Crescent) 2♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 5 unk


Seasonally moist meadows north of Conners Lake, where Polites themistocles and Boloria selene are found.

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, upper canyon, elev 2300'-2770'
Amblyscirtes vialis (Common Roadside Skipper) 1♂
Anthocharis julia sulfuris (Julia Orangetip) 2♂
Euchloe ausonides transmontana (Large Marble) 3♂
Euphilotes heracleoides (Cascadia Blue) 10♂
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue) 2♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 15♂
Argynnis zerene picta (Zerene Fritillary) 1♂
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 2 unk
Aglais milberti subpallida (Milbert's Tortoiseshell) 1 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 1♂

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, between Forde and Blue lakes, elev 1620'
Pterourus multicaudata pusillus (Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail) 1 unk
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 2 unk
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail) 5 unk
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 2♂
Argynnis zerene picta (Zerene Fritillary) 1♂
Drasteria ochracea (moth) 1♀

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of Hunter's Camp, elev 1750'-1800'
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 1♂

Okanogan County, WA: Salmon Meadows, vicinity of N end, elev 4480'
Anthocharis julia sulfuris (Julia Orangetip) 1♂ 1♀
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 3♀ 40 unk
Schinia honesta (Black-spotted Gem moth) 1 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Salmon Meadows, vicinity of S end, elev 4460'-4480'
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 10♂ 30 unk


Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot, males) at Salmon Meadows


Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot, female) at Salmon Meadows


June 16, 2021

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Blue Lake Pothole 2, elev 1720'
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 1♂
Tharsalea helloides (Purplish Copper) 2♂ 2♀
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 3 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, upper canyon, elev 2300'-2770'
Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing) 1♂
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 1♂
Hesperia colorado idaho (Western Branded Skipper) 1♂
Amblyscirtes vialis (Common Roadside Skipper) 2♂
Pterourus multicaudata pusillus (Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail) 4+ unk
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail) 5+ unk
Euphilotes heracleoides (Cascadia Blue) 1♂
Celastrina echo [?] (Echo Azure) 1 larva on red osier dogwood (rearing, strongly patterned like typical echo)
Celastrina lucia [?] (Lucia Azure) 13 larvae on red osier dogwood (rearing, look identical to Ringer Loop lucia larvae)
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue) 1♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 12♂
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 3 unk
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell) 2 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1 unk
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 1 unk


Celastrina lucia? larva, approximately 2nd instar


Celastrina lucia? larva, 4th (final) instar


Celastrina lucia? larva, 4th (final) instar


Celastrina lucia? larva, showing rosy coloration prior to pupating

Okanogan County, WA: Upper Sinlahekin Creek road junction, 1 mile W of SWA, elev 3100'
Hesperia colorado idaho (Western Branded Skipper) 1♂
Papilio zelicaon (Anise Swallowtail) 1♂
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 3♂
Cupido amyntula amyntula (Western Tailed Blue) 1♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 5 unk
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell) 10 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 5 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Upper Sinlahekin Creek Rd at gate, elev 3800'
Pyrgus ruralis ruralis (Two-banded Checkered Skipper) 1 unk
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 1♂
Argynnis callippe semivirida (Callippe Fritillary) 1♂
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell)
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 1♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet)

Okanogan County, WA: Bald Butte Rd at large rock outcrop, elev 3830'
Parnassius smintheus magnus (Mountain Parnassian) 1♂
Cicindela longilabris (Boreal Long-lipped Tiger Beetle) 1 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Bald Butte Rd at wet seepy area, elev 4410'
Pyrgus ruralis ruralis (Two-banded Checkered Skipper) 2 unk
Icaricia saepiolus rufescens (Greenish Blue) 1♂
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 1♂
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 1♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 2 unk

Okanogan County, WA: FR-3820 seep and hillside meadow, 2.75mi NW of Salmon Meadows, elev 5600'-5640'
Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing) 1♂
Papilio zelicaon (Anise Swallowtail) 6♂
Callophrys sheridanii newcomeri (Sheridan's Green Hairstreak) 2♂
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 10♂
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 3 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 5 unk
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 3♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet)
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 3♂
Oeneis chryxus chryxus (Chryxus Arctic) 8♂ 1♀

Okanogan County, WA: FR-3820, vicinity of area N of Lone Frank Pass, elev 6630'-6600'
Colias eurytheme (Orange Sulphur) 1♀
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 20♂ 20 unk
Boloria freija freija (Freija Fritillary) 4♂ 14 unk
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 2♂ 9 unk


Hairpin curve north of Lone Frank Pass where Boloria freija are found, Okanogan County, WA


June 17, 2021

Okanogan County, WA: Toats Coulee Rd overlook, elev 4500'
Hesperia nevada N Great Basin & Columbia Basin seg. (Nevada Skipper) 3♂ 1♀
Glaucopsyche piasus toxeuma (Arrowhead Blue) 1♀ 1 unk
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 5♀
Argynnis callippe semivirida (Callippe Fritillary) 8♂
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell) 1 unk
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 3 unk


Toats Coulee Road overlook where Hesperia nevada were found


Glaucopsyche piasus toxeuma (Arrowhead Blue) female

Okanogan County, WA: Toats Coulee Road at various seeps below Middle Fork, elev 4730'-5000'
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 1 unk
Anthocharis julia sulfuris (Julia Orangetip) 3♂
Euchloe ausonides transmontana (Large Marble) 1♂
Callophrys eryphon Columbia Basin seg. (Western Pine Elfin) 1 unk
Euphilotes heracleoides (Cascadia Blue) 2♂
Glaucopsyche piasus toxeuma (Arrowhead Blue) 1♂
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue)
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue) 1♂
Icaricia saepiolus rufescens (Greenish Blue) 10+♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 14♂
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 4♂
Argynnis callippe semivirida (Callippe Fritillary) 6♂
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 1 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 3♂ (1 aberrant)
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 7 unk
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 3♂
Hemaris thetis (Snowberry Clearwing moth) 1♂

Okanogan County, WA: Middle Fork Toats Coulee Creek at FR-39/Toats Coulee, elev 5000'
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 4♂
Hesperia juba (Juba Skipper) 1♂
Papilio zelicaon (Anise Swallowtail) 15♂
Colias eriphyle (Eriphyle's Sulphur) 1♂
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue)
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue)
Plebejus melissa melissa (Melissa Blue) 1♂
Argynnis coronis simaetha (Coronis Fritillary) 1♂
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 1♂ 100 unk
Oeneis chryxus chryxus (Chryxus Arctic) 1♀


Papilio zelicaon (Anise Swallowtail) puddle party at Middle Fork Toats Coulee

Okanogan County, WA: FR-39 roadside wet ditch just E of Long Swamp, elev 5520'
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 2♂ 1♀
Callophrys eryphon Columbia Basin seg. (Western Pine Elfin) 1♀
Cupido amyntula amyntula (Western Tailed Blue) 1♂
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary)
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1♀ 2 unk
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 2 unk
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 3♂

Okanogan County, WA: Long Swamp, campground/meadow, elev 5440'

Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 20♂
Colias sp. 1 unk
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 30♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 1♂ 10 unk
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 1♂
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 20 unk

Okanogan County, WA: FR-39 at Corral Butte, elev 6480'

Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell) 1 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 2 unk
Oeneis chryxus chryxus (Chryxus Arctic) 1 unk

Okanogan County, WA: FR-39 between Thirtymile Creek and Corral Butte, elev 5870'
Pyrgus ruralis ruralis (Two-banded Checkered Skipper) 1 unk
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 1♂ 3 unk
Anthocharis julia sulfuris (Julia Orangetip) 1♂
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 5♂ 8♀
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 1♂
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 1♂
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell) 10 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 2 unk
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 1 unk
Euphydryas editha beani (Edith's Checkerspot) 2♀ 1 unk


In spite of the desolation from the wildfire around 2001, this area is recovering well with plenty of butterflies to show for it.

Okanogan County, WA: Thirtymile Meadows at FR-39, elev 6120'
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 3 unk
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 10♂
Boloria freija freija (Freija Fritillary) 3♂ 1 unk
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell) 1 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 2 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Twentymile Meadows Overlook on FR-39, elev 6460'
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 20♂
Euphydryas editha beani (Edith's Checkerspot) 11♂ 1♀ 30 unk

Okanogan County, WA: FR-39/FR-3820 intersection, elev 6320'
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 20♂
Boloria freija freija (Freija Fritillary) 1♂
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 1 unk

Okanogan County, WA: FR-3820, 0.5mi S of FR-39, elev 6510'
Euphydryas editha beani (Edith's Checkerspot) 3♂

Okanogan County, WA: FR-3820, vicinity of area N of Lone Frank Pass, elev 6630'-6600'
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 20♂
Boloria freija freija (Freija Fritillary) 1♂
Aglais milberti subpallida (Milbert's Tortoiseshell) 1 unk
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 10 unk
Euphydryas editha beani (Edith's Checkerspot) 3 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1♂

Okanogan County, WA: FR-3820, vicinity of area S of Lone Frank Pass, elev 6670'
Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia (Silvery Blue) 20♂
Boloria freija freija (Freija Fritillary) 1♂
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 1♂


Looking southeast towards Conconully from a hillside a few miles northwest of Salmon Meadows

Okanogan County, WA: Salmon Meadows, vicinity of S end, elev 4460'-4480'
Boloria freija freija (Freija Fritillary) 1♀ (never recorded from Salmon Meadows before)
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 1♂
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 5 unk


June 18, 2021 (CB and DS joined me this day)

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of NW Fish Lake, elev 1790'-1820'
Thorybes pylades indistinctus (Northern Cloudywing) 1 unk
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing)
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 2♂
Hesperia juba (Juba Skipper) 1 unk
Papilio machaon oregonia (Oregon Swallowtail) 1♂
Papilio zelicaon (Anise Swallowtail) 1♂
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail)
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail)
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper)
Tharsalea helloides (Purplish Copper) 3♂
Satyrium semiluna semiluna (Halfmoon Hairstreak) 1 unk
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue)
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue)
Argynnis zerene picta (Zerene Fritillary) 1♂
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral)
Nymphalis californica californica (California Tortoiseshell)
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak)
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet)

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of Hunter's Camp, elev 1750'-1800'
Erynnis pacuvius lilius (Pacuvius Duskywing) 1♀
Pterourus multicaudata pusillus (Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail)
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail)
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail)
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 13♂
Satyrium titus immaculosus (Coral Hairstreak) 1♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue)
Plebejus melissa melissa (Melissa Blue) 1♀
Argynnis zerene picta (Zerene Fritillary) 5♂ 1♀
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral)
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1♂
Phyciodes cocyta pascoensis (Northern Crescent) 1♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet)


Argynnis zerene picta (Zerene Fritillary), mating pair near Hunter's Camp in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area


Satyrium titus immaculosus (Coral Hairstreak), this male appeared out of nowhere while we were standing around talking, taking a liking to CB's binoculars!

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, upper canyon, elev 2300'-2770'
Hesperia colorado idaho (Western Branded Skipper) 1♂
Pterourus multicaudata pusillus (Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail) 2+ unk
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail)
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail) 3+ unk
Euphilotes heracleoides (Cascadia Blue) 5♂
Celastrina lucia [?] (Lucia Azure) 10 larvae (photographed, some ant-tended)
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 5♂
Argynnis callippe semivirida (Callippe Fritillary) 1♂
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 3+ unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 1♂
Cercyonis pegala ariane (Common Wood Nymph) 1♂
Cercyonis oetus oetus (Dark Wood Nymph) 1♂


Celastrina lucia? larva tended by an ant


Celastrina lucia? larva tended by an ant


Celastrina lucia? larva tended by an ant

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, meadows N of Conners Lake, elev 1490'-1500'
Pholisora catullus garita (Common Sootywing) 1♀
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 1♂ 5 unk
Hesperia colorado idaho (Western Branded Skipper) 1♂
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 1♂ 5 unk
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail) 1♂
Pieris rapae rapae (Cabbage White) 3♂
Callophrys spinetorum spinetorum (Thicket Hairstreak) 1♀
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue) 1♂
Polygonia satyrus neomarsyas (Satyr Anglewing/Comma) 1♀
Phyciodes cocyta pascoensis (Northern Crescent) 2♂
Cercyonis pegala ariane (Common Wood Nymph) 3 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Jay Hill Camp, elev 1865'
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper)
Satyrium semiluna semiluna (Halfmoon Hairstreak) 1♀
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue)
Cercyonis pegala ariane (Common Wood Nymph)


June 19, 2021

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, northern section of Douglas Mtn Rd, elev 2390'
Tharsalea helloides (Purplish Copper) 1♂
Celastrina sp. (Echo/Lucia Azure) 1 2nd instar larva on red osier dogwood (too small to differentiate between echo/lucia yet)
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 1 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 2 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, southern section of Douglas Mtn Rd, elev 3140'-3230'
Euchloe ausonides transmontana (Large Marble) 1♂ 1♀
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 2♂
Tharsalea helloides (Purplish Copper) 1♂
Euphilotes heracleoides (Cascadia Blue) 1♂
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 4 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 1♂
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 2 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of Hunter's Camp, elev 1750'-1800'

Erynnis pacuvius lilius (Pacuvius Duskywing) 1♀
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 15♂ 1♀
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 1♂ 20♀
Plebejus melissa melissa (Melissa Blue) 1♂ 1♀
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 4 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1♀
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet)

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of NW Fish Lake, elev 1790'-1820'
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 6♂
Amblyscirtes vialis (Common Roadside Skipper) 1 unk
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 1 unk
Pterourus eurymedon (Pale Tiger Swallowtail) 2 unk
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 5♂
Argynnis zerene picta (Zerene Fritillary) 2♂
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 6 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 1♀
Coenonympha california ampelos (Ochre Ringlet) 5 unk

Okanogan County, WA: Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, vicinity of SE Fish Lake, elev 1800'
Tharsalea heteronea klotsi (Blue Copper) 5♂
Euphilotes heracleoides (Cascadia Blue) 3♂
Icaricia lupini lutzi (Lupine Blue) 2♂


June 20, 2021

Okanogan County, WA: Moses Meadows, edges along loop road, elev. 3470'-3600'

Erynnis icelus (Dreamy Duskywing) 1♂
Erynnis persius Cascadian seg. (Persius Duskywing) 5♂
Polites themistocles turneri (Tawny-edged Skipper) 16♂
Polites peckius peckius (Peck's Skipper) 1♀ 1 unk
Hesperia juba (Juba Skipper) 1♂
Oarisma garita garita (Garita Skipperling) 4♂ 1♀
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 5 unk
Colias christina pseudocolumbiensis (Christina Sulphur) 3♂
Colias eriphyle (Eriphyle's Sulphur) 1♂
Colias interior (Pink-edged Sulphur) 11♂
Pieris marginalis reicheli (Margined White) 1♂
Tharsalea mariposa thea (Mariposa Copper) 1♂
Tharsalea helloides (Purplish Copper) 1♂ 2♀
Icaricia saepiolus rufescens (Greenish Blue) 21♂
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 60♂
Boloria epithore chermocki (Western Meadow Fritillary) 1♂
Boloria bellona jenistai (Meadow Fritillary) 1♂ 1♀ 1 unk
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 4 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 300♂
Chlosyne palla blackmorei (Northern Checkerspot) 100♂
Phyciodes cocyta pascoensis (Northern Crescent) 1♂
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 16♂
Coenonympha california columbiana (Ochre Ringlet) 20 unk
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 1♀ 6 unk


Moses Meadows (looking south), Okanogan County, WA


Southeast side of Moses Meadows, Okanogan County, WA

Okanogan County, WA: Lyman Lake-Moses Mountain Road, elev 3860'-4040'
Amblyscirtes vialis (Common Roadside Skipper) 1♂
Oarisma garita garita (Garita Skipperling) 5♂
Colias christina pseudocolumbiensis (Christina Sulphur) 60♂
Colias interior (Pink-edged Sulphur) 3♂
Pieris marginalis reicheli (Margined White) 1♂
Callophrys spinetorum spinetorum (Thicket Hairstreak) 1♀
Callophrys augustinus iroides (Brown Elfin) 1♀
Icaricia icarioides pembina (Boisduval's Blue) 10♂
Boloria bellona jenistai (Meadow Fritillary) 2♂
Limenitis lorquini burrisonii (Lorquin's Admiral) 1 unk
Nymphalis antiopa antiopa (Mourning Cloak) 1 unk
Polygonia gracilis zephyrus (Hoary Anglewing/Comma) 1 unk
Euphydryas anicia Okanogan Highlands seg. (Anicia Checkerspot) 14♂
Chlosyne palla blackmorei (Northern Checkerspot) 30♂
Phyciodes pulchella owimba (Field Crescent) 10♂
Coenonympha california columbiana (Ochre Ringlet) 5♂ 10 unk
Erebia epipsodea epipsodea (Butler's Alpine) 1♂ 2 unk


Lyman Lake-Moses Mountain Road north of Moses Meadows, Okanogan County, WA


June 21, 2021

Grant County, WA: Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park, elev 1200'
Pieris rapae rapae (Cabbage White) 12 unk
Vanessa atalanta rubria (Red Admiral) 1 5th instar larva on nettles

Kittitas County, WA: Ringer South Trail, Ringer Loop Rd, elev 1430'
Pterourus rutulus (Western Tiger Swallowtail) 1 unk
Celastrina lucia Central WA seg. (Lucia Azure) 4♂ (second brood)
Phyciodes mylitta mylitta (Mylitta Crescent) 1♂

Lewis County, WA: Hwy 12, 4.6mi east of Randle, elev 920'
Parnassius clodius claudianus (Clodius Parnassian) 3 unk

Whew! That's a lot of typing and formatting!
Hopefully more to come on the Lucia/Echo research soon (sooner than my latest 8 month gap in blog posts!)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Updates to Northwest Butterflies

Normally this time of year I'd be heading to the NW Leps Workshop in Corvallis for a weekend gathering of regional lepidopterists, probably my favorite butterfly-related event all year and one of the only times people can buy my books without the extra cost of shipping. However, due to the combination of a building remodeling project and COVID restrictions, the meeting has been changed to a virtual chat. Meanwhile, after nearly three years in business I've been making some updates to my storefront (list below).

So to celebrate three years in business and honor my NW Leps customers, I am offering 20% off all orders placed on October 24 through November 21. Go to northwestbutterflies.com and use the code NWLEPS2020 during checkout to claim the discount!

Some of the changes:

Digital downloads -- I have plans to expand this but for now there are two items available for free:

    • Comprehensive checklist of the butterflies of Washington. This is a PDF that myself and the rest of the authors freely distribute. It is offered here so anyone can check for new updates and download immediately without waiting for emails.
    • List of errata for Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest along with taxonomic (Genus/species name) updates.

Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest by myself and Robert Michael Pyle - I have 20 copies available that I will sign. If they sell out I can order more.

I've added a page with shipping cost information in an effort to provide up-front costs so you aren't surprised when you get to the checkout. Instead of auto-calculating shipping during checkout, I now have set shipping costs based on my averages over the past three years. I also balanced it with slightly reduced book prices. This means people in the Pacific Northwest will save between $0.50-2.00 compared to former order totals, and people in eastern states may save as much as $7 compared to former totals.

New photo products -- I have a limited number of vinyl stickers made from my photographs. Depending on how these sell, I may develop some additional options. I also added a new magnet option: a kiss cut Ceanothus Silk Moth adult. Let me know if you have any requests or suggestions!

Ceanothus Silk Moth
mock-up of kiss cut design for stickers and magnets

Friday, March 27, 2020

Species Profile: Hera Buckmoth - Hemileuca hera

Hera Buckmoth or Hera Sheepmoth (Hemileuca hera) is a large, black and white, day-flying moth found in sagebrush-steppe habitat across the western United States. In our area, it occurs in eastern Oregon and Washington. See my earlier post on Hemileuca species in the Pacific Northwest for other details about its life history. Hera is notoriously difficult to rear and there are few published descriptions. While out looking for butterflies (unsuccessfully, due to the cool, overcast weather), a little black clump on some sagebrush caught the corner of my eye. Closer inspection revealed them to be first instar Hera larvae! Super excited, I clipped off the branch and carried them home to rear, ignoring the fact they feed exclusively on sagebrush in desert habitat and I live on the west side of the Cascades, far from sagebrush. Thus my adventure began!

Sagebrush-steppe habitat in eastern Kittitas County, WA where I found Hemileuca hera larvae on April 20, 2019.
Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - late 1st instar larvae on basin sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) in Kittitas County.

A day after I found the larvae, they began molting into the second instar. The light brown larvae on the right (below) just molted. The lighter gray larvae on the top left and bottom left molted earlier, while the dark black larvae are about to molt.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - larvae molting into 2nd instar on April 21, 2019.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 2nd instar larva.

During the first week, I fed the larvae on cut basin sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) in a small cage (below). I kept the ends wrapped in wet paper towels placed in plastic baggies and secured around the top with twist ties and binder clips. The cuttings stayed surprisingly fresh for at least five days before starting to yellow.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - my rearing setup for the first week.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 2nd instar larvae.
Second and third instar larvae were solid black with black bristles and silvery hairs. They moved and fed together in such tight bundles that it was impossible for me to accurately count how many there were. Because of this, I am uncertain how many might have died, although I was very careful to clean the cage and examine the leaves and branches when replacing food and I never noticed any dead larvae. My attempts at counting the larvae in the 3rd and 4th instars always resulted in 20-21. One died in 5th instar and I ended with 18 pupae, so the true total was probably 20 and I must have lost a larva in the 3rd or 4th instar.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 3rd instar larva.

After the first week with cuttings, I fed the larvae on potted Artemisia tridentata for two weeks. Unfortunately, the sagebrush didn't do well and started to yellow so I was back to obtaining fresh cuttings the following two weeks. I loaded up my hungry caterpillars for a 600 mile round trip drive (I'm a very dedicated caterpillar momma!). I found some lush sagebrush growing on the side of a road pullout before the mouth of the Deschutes River in the Columbia Gorge. It had big, long leaves compared to most of the surrounding sage, which I didn't think much of at the moment, figured it just had more moisture or something. I loaded up a bag full of cuttings and headed home. A colleague commented that the leaves looked different in my pictures and after studying information on different sagebrush species, I tentatively identified it as Artemisia cana, silver sagebrush. Hera seem to exclusively use A. tridentata throughout their range, only one larva has ever been found on A. cana in the wild, so I was a bit nervous that I might be damaging my chances of successfully rearing these picky cats, but they voraciously took to the fresh cuttings and continued feeding well on it for the next two weeks until I was able to purchase several pots of A. tridentata I then switched them back to.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 3rd and 4th instar larvae on Artemisia cana.

Fourth instar larvae exhibited orange-yellow bristles on the two dorsal (back) rows and white spiracles. In all of my rearings of Hemileuca eglanterina, larvae of that species look similar to hera at this stage, except that eglanterina has these orange bristles on all spines dorsally and laterally through most instars.

Aren't they cute? But don't touch! As with all other Hemileuca species, the caterpillars have urticating (stinging) hairs that feel like running your hand through a stinging nettle patch. You might get away with allowing the larvae to crawl on your hand without being stung, just don't try to pick them up or touch their backs!

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 4th instar larva on Artemisia cana.
Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 4th instar larva on Artemisia cana.

Hera really are quite beautiful in the fifth (final) instar! They have variable markings in pale yellow and pinkish cream on their bodies, white spiracles (breathing holes), non-stinging silvery hairs on their body, long black spines with either black or yellow branches tipped with silver stinging hairs.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - closeup of 5th instar larva.
Up to this point, the larvae developed steadily, molting into the next instar every 12-13 days.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 5th instar larvae on Artemisia tridentata.
At this point, the larvae had been in the 5th instar for two weeks. I was expecting them to prepare for pupation any day, and they did spend half their time crawling around the cage, but they acted more like they were looking for food, in spite of there being plenty, and as soon as I picked them up (with a paintbrush!) and put back on the plants, they always went back to eating. This became a daily routine, every morning and evening, to carefully transfer the larvae from the bottom of the cage back onto the plants. This is likely the time when larvae in the wild are spreading out to feed singly instead of in large groups. I had enough potted plants to keep 1-2 larvae per plant, but the plants were only 10-12 inch tall plants from a native plant nursery. Plenty of leaves for them to eat, but possibly not enough space for this apparently super picky stage of their development.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 5th instar larvae on Artemisia tridentata plugs placed in a PVC pipe and masking
 tape grid to try to keep them spaced apart. However, this made it difficult for the larvae to find
 the plants again after dropping off.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 5th instar larva on Artemisia tridentata.

Unless the larvae are out feeding near the ends of the branches, it would be easy to overlook these larvae if you didn't have a really good search image as they blend into the silvery glint and broken shadows of the sagebrush.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 5th instar larva on Artemisia tridentata; it is surprisingly well-camouflaged!

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - 5th instar larva on Artemisia tridentata.
At this point (weeks 8-10), the potted sagebrush was half eaten so I placed all the plugs into a box (figured this would also provide a nice dark place for pupating) and also provided more A. tridentata cuttings. Although the larvae continued to drop off the plants and crawl all over the cage, this setup made it easier for them to find the leaves again without me putting them back on the plants.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - rearing cage with potted and cut sagebrush,
set outside for sun exposure, temperatures between 85-92F and good ventilation.

You may have noticed at this point that I kept the larvae inside or outside at different points. I experimented with different conditions because Hera are used to being fully exposed to sun and wind. Living on the west side, outdoor conditions in April-May are cloudy and in the mid-60s at best, with higher humidity than sagebrush-steppe habitat. Keeping the larvae outside gave them 1-2 hours of sun per day and a bit of fresh air, but was higher humidity (60-80% RH) and cooler than I thought they appreciated. Keeping them inside gave them a steady 70-73 degrees 24 hours a day and lower humidity (35-40% RH) but only provided what little sunlight could reach through my windows. After a couple weeks, I had an idea to set up my full-spectrum plant light and purchased a UVA-UVB bulb rated for desert reptiles. I figured that if reptiles need that spectrum to keep them healthy, my caterpillars would probably benefit as well. Here is what my setup looked like, with adjustable height of the lamps depending on what cages I was using.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - rearing cage setup indoors with full-spectrum plant light
and a UVA/UVB bulb rated for desert reptiles in an attempt to replicate sun exposure.

FINALLY!!! After over a month (37+ days to be exact!) of dilly-dallying, the larvae finally started showing definite signs of preparing to pupate...

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - prepupal larva.

Over the years, I've played around with different items for ground-pupating moths. In this case, I was concerned that keeping the larvae in a closed container like a bucket or gallon jar might not be ventilated enough for this desert species. Also, I was about to head out on a two week road trip and didn't want to leave them in a mesh cage that could easily be disturbed with jostling around and moving luggage. I pulled out my blancher - perfect! Lots of holes for ventilation but just small enough the larvae couldn't fit through them, it's dark so mimics being underground, and it is small enough that I could fill it with several ripped-up and crumpled paper towels without using up a whole roll. I could hear them rustling around in it for a few days and then it was all quiet.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - prepupal larvae.

Around 8-10 days later, I opened the blancher and carefully searched through the paper towels to find all the pupae...18 total!

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - prepupal larvae and pupae.

Back home from my trip, I tucked all the pupae between folds of a cotton towel placed in a cage kept on my porch to be overwintered. One of them had other ideas though: this gorgeous female emerged on September 22, 2019, much to my surprise! If nothing else emerges this coming summer, I will still feel like I was successful to at least get one of these fussy beauties all the way through to adulthood.

Hera Buckmoth (Hemileuca hera) - adult female.