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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blue on red

I've shown this species of butterfly before, but this is the first time I've photographed an Acmon Blue (Plebejus acmon) nectaring on Red Maids (Calandrinia ciliata).  This picture was taken in the Bodega Dunes on 25 February 2015.  This also gives me a chance to provide updates on a few other butterfly records mentioned on the blog in February.

The next picture shows the Acmon Blue as seen from above, which will be useful when comparing it with the tailed blue from 21 February:

To review, here's the tailed blue (below).  Look for the "tails," and compare the orange/black markings along the edge of the hind wing.

I'm sure you noticed that the Acmon Blue lacked tails and that the tailed blue had fewer orange markings.

You might also remember that I was wondering if this was a Western Tailed Blue or an Eastern Tailed Blue.  I heard from a few people about the identification (thank you!).  The amount of orange on the upper side of the hindwing is helpful.  So is the overall size of the butterfly.  The habitat is potentially useful, too.  In this case, I'm not sure about the size, as I actually thought the two butterflies I saw were relatively large, but it's true I didn't measure them or have much nearby for scale.  It's apparently rare for Western Tailed Blues to have orange on the upperside of the hindwing.  And it's more common to see Eastern Tailed Blues in disturbed, riparian habitats at low elevations (a match for the habitat at Crane Creek Regional Park in Santa Rosa).  All together, I'll identify them as Eastern Tailed Blues for now.

And do you remember the blurry picture of the Western Pine Elfin on 14 February 2015? 


Well, it turns out that this was a state record!  That is, it was an early flight date for California.  Prior to this, the early date for the state was 6 March.  So this Bodega Dunes elfin will go into the record books.

(For examples of California butterfly flight records, you can download The International Lepidoptera Survey Newsletters here.)

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