This morning I took it upon myself to accomplish three things. Two of the three were not entirely in my control, the other would take time regardless of how long and hard I spent hiking in the chaparral-coastal sage foothills of this county.
This evening I'll write on One.
As you guys might have surmised, I am interested in many things. Certainly ornithology, for occupation as well as avocation. But it certainly doesn't stop there. The order Lepidoptera also occupies my mind, my energies, my wonder, my weekends. Lepidoptera = Moths & Butterflies.
The butterfly life cycle is the amazing process of metamorphosis. That is the transition from egg to larva (caterpillar) to pupa (or chrysalis) to the winged adult.
This process begins with the female lays egg(s) on or near the plants that the larva will like to eat. Caterpillars are quite picky, and most cannot survive on the wrong plant. This plant is called the host plant. Host plants can range from ancient, towering oaks all the way down to blades of a native grass.
Caterpillars skin can only stretch so far, and the larva passes through ~ 5 growing stages (termed instars); so it must shed its skin each time.
The final time it sheds its skin is infact the next phase of its life, the pupa.
Remember it is a majority of moths that spin a protective cocoon, not butterflies. Butterfly larva reach the pupa life stage as a chrysalis. When the development inside is complete, the pupa will split open and the adult will emerge.
Though much is known about butterflies' metamorphosis. It could still be regarded, and rightly so I think, as a miracle of sorts.
Ha, so that was the lesson.
I went hiking today in the chaparral-costal sage scrub of the western foothills of San Diego County. Near Santee. There is a large and quite beautiful park in this sprawling suburban area. A large, quite beautiful, and vitally important park.
"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell" - Edward Abbey (1927-1989)
There is a butterfly that ranges only from a portion of San Diego county and a small part of Northern Baja California, Mexico.
Beautiful and highly sought after by lepidopterists of all persuasions, it is occasionally common at chaparral near stands of "Redberry" (Rhamnus), its One larval hostplant.
It is also disappearing. The chaparral. The Redberry. The butterfly.
Disappearing to "development". Housing. Sprawl. "Progress."
The adult of this insect favors nectering on One particular plant; flowering California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum).
This butterfly has always been scarce it would seem, even back in the '20s. Said early California butterfly enthusiast John A. Comstock, "It will always be a rarity, and may in fact someday become extinct, if San Diego continues to grow at its present rate."
Urbanization, wildfires, and other factors threaten their tenuous existance.
For me, this morning, it was hiking in the foothills; enjoying birds, looking out for butterflies, and breaking in some new boots. I knew this area had Redberry. I was aware that California Buckwheat was in bloom. In fact, it was in bloom all over this particular area.
Hours of carefully glancing at blinding white flowers of buckwheat, and fatigued from the hike, I was nearing the area where I had parked my vehicle.
Nectoring on these flowers for much of my morning had been a couple of species of "Blues". "Blues" are generally erratic flyers, about the size of a nickel to a dime.
As I neared the end of my trek I passed by some small "Blues" erratically flying in a corkscrew pattern up above the gravel path.
One, though similar in size, was of a different color.
I feel very fortunate. Time well spent. I only saw One.
I took a few pictures as well.
Hermes Copper (Lycaena hermes)
© M. W. York
© M. W. York
© M. W. York
© M. W. York
It is my hope that you all had as good a Sunday morning as I had.
Whether on pages or flowers, perhaps we studied the same....thing.. this Sunday morning.
I know I was attentive.