July 23rd’s outing to Aspen Corner off Snowbowl Road in Flagstaff proved to be a wonderful break from the Valley heat. Pine and Aspen forests, meadows and a tank were full of activity. Although we had a slow beginning because of clouds, the twelve of us ended up spotting 18 species. Besides looking for butterflies, there were plenty of other critters to entertain us. The berm at the tank with wonderful views of the Mountains reflected in the water was a perfect place to have our snacks. Butterflies:
Northwestern (Atlantis) Fritillary, Weidemeyer's Admiral, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Hoary Comma, Melissa Blue (a 1st for many! photo by Marianne Jensen), Boisduval’s Blue, Reakirt’s Blue, Silvery Blue, Greenish Blue, Marine Blue, Spring Azure, Afranius Duskywing, Meridian Duskywing, Taxiles Skipper, Garita Skipperling, Dainty Sulphur, Orange Sulphur..
Day Flying Moths: Veined Ctenucha Moth, Police Car Moth
Flies: Orange Tachinid Fly, Yellow-belted Tachinid Fly
Insects: Pleasing Fungus Beetle, Tiger Beetle
Aquatic: Arizona Tree Frog, Tiger Salamander larvae (ID thanks to Ron)
Reptiles: Short-horned Lizard
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Fifteen participants started up the Colonel Devin Trail from Washington ParkTrailhead surprised how lush everything was. The weather was perfect, sunny, and later partly cloudy. 39 species of butterflies were seen within the group, with a Northern Crescent (see photo) and a Tawny-edged Skipper being the highlights of the day, as they normally are "truly above-the-Rim" species…
Butterfly list: Two-tailed Swallowtail, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Checkered White, Sleepy Orange, Orange Sulphur, Southern Dogface, Mexican Yellow, Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur, Dainty Sulphur, Bramble Hairstreak, Thicket Hairstreak, Marine Blue, Reakirt’s Blue, Western Tailed-Blue, Spring “Echo” Azure, Acmon Blue, Melissa Blue, Nais Metalmark, Zela Metalmark, Variegated Fritillary, Northwestern “Atlantis” Fritillary, Mylitta Crescent, Northern Crescent, Satyr Comma, Red-spotted Purple, Weidemeyer’s Admiral, Arizona Sister, Mourning Cloak, Common Buckeye, Canyonland Satyr, Silver-spotted Skipper, Golden-banded Skipper, Pacuvius Duskywing, Northern Cloudywing, Common Checkered-Skipper, Orange Skipperling, Tawny-edged Skipper, Deva Skipper, Bronze Roadside-Skipper.
I want to thank all participants for a great trip, and hope you will come out again soon! Marceline
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Twelve participants enjoyed a beautiful morning, mainly in the downstream section of the wash where there was more water and more vegetation. Because of the lack of water in the upstream side canyon (thanks to pre-trip scouting by Marceline VandeWater) we did not explore that area that has been so productive in previous years. In late morning we added more species among the flowers in the upstream section of the wash. Thanks to Laura Miller, who went early in the morning to pour water in a small depression in the road, we added three species of puddling Blues.
After lunch at the picnic tables at nearby Sears Kay Ruins, in a hike up to the top of the ruins, we added hilltop species Great Purple Hairstreak and Gray Hairstreak, as well as California Patch (among all the Tarantula Hawks that were also hilltopping). Lower down, near the picnic tables, we added “Martin’s” Square-spotted Blue (pictured) in the large patch of Buckwheat.
Thirty species were recorded: Pipevine Swallowtail, Two-tailed Swallowtail, Checkered White, Sleepy Orange, Orange Sulphur, Southern Dogface, Dainty Sulphur, Great Purple Hairstreak, Gray Hairstreak, Marine Blue, Reakirt’s Blue, Spring Azure, Martin’s Blue, Acmon Blue, American Snout, Variegated Fritillary, Tiny Checkerspot, Elada Checkerspot, Satyr Comma, California Patch, Painted Lady, Empress Leilia, Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, Queen, Common Buckeye, Northern White-Skipper, Common Streaky-Skipper, Golden-headed Scallopwing, and White-Checkered Skipper.
A bonus was the male and female Springwater Dancer damselflies in the downstream section of Rackensack Wash.
The reason Rackensack Wash is one of the best places to see butterflies in central Arizona is because of the many and diverse species of flowering plants. Thanks to Marianne Jensen, we added four species of plants to our Rackensack Plant List: two lavender colored ones: Hillside Vervain (Verbena neomexicana), False Pennyroyal (Nedeoma nana), a plant with a tiny white flower: Yellow-throated Gilia, and a large Morning Glory: Paiute False Bindweed.
CAzBa has been leading mid-April trips to Rackensack for the past ten years and each year has been different from the others, largely depending upon winter and spring rains. The biggest surprise this year was the lack of any Variable Checkerspots – the most abundant butterfly on all previous trips.
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