If you're interested in using any of these photographs, please contact me. Send an e-mail to naturalhistoryphotos(at)gmail.com. Thanks!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lekking leps


Eric observed an intriguing butterfly flutter to the ground near our house in Sebastopol this morning.  It turned out to be a Pine White (Neophasia menapia).  It's the first time we've noticed this species in our yard.

Note the greenish-white background color.  The thick, dark outlines of the veins and the orange coloration along the edge of the hindwing indicate that this is a female.  (Males are paler and lack the orange.)  Some of the darker scales showed a purple iridescence (see below).


Shapiro and Manolis provide this fun description of Pine White behavior in A Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions (2007):

"Adults lek around the tops of pines and occasionally other trees, dropping to near the ground and then rising to near the top in a spiraling motion;  they repeat the process again and again.  Their flight seems effortless, with infrequent wingbeats, and they have more than once been likened to giant snowflakes wafted in the breeze."

[A lek is a gathering of individuals involved in courtship displays.  "Lep" (from the title of this post) is an informal abbreviation for "lepidoptera," the scientific name for butterflies and moths.]

Here's a close-up:


No comments: