Pend-d Oreille Butterfly Survey
Total field effort over three
seasons resulted in the accumulation of 1261 records. A record
is defined as the presence of a species at one site on one
day. The resulting set of records, in conjunction with qualitative
observations, was used to construct the following list. The
list is structured to provide zoological names, common names,
flight dates, abundance assessment, habitat notes and other
miscellaneous observations of interest. Abundance designations
follow the relative abundance definitions used by Calhoun
(1985): ‘abundant’ means that a species can be
expected in great numbers in the correct habitat and season;
‘common’ means that a species can be expected
in the correct habitat and season, and that several sight
records or specimens can be anticipated; ‘uncommon’
means that a species may or may not be found in the correct
habitat or season or that very few sightings would be made
on a given visit to a specific location; ‘rare’
species are seldom encountered. It is important to remember
that these are qualitative and relative ‘observability’
ratings only. They are not population estimates and should
not be used to conjure up imaginary conservation problems.
You will notice that in a
number of cases I drone on about interesting observations
and speculations about butterfly names and taxonomy. If you
find this boring, just ignore it and read other parts of the
report. But there is a perfectly good explanation for why
I have included these observations and musings. Things are
simply not as cut and dried as they appear to be on the basis
of what gets published in books. Having correct names, and
correct taxonomic status at the species/subspecies levels,
for animals is a key part of communicating about them and
making social choices about biodiversity management. Since
we do not in fact know everything about butterflies; my hope
is that these observations will prompt further investigation
into these interesting affairs.
clarus Silver-spotted Skipper
5 July to 11 August,
common. Look for this large skipper in the vicinity
of its local larval host plant, black locust (Robinia
pseudo-acacia); nectaring observed on white sweet
clover; lower road about 4 km west of the 7 mile dam
has a vehicle pull-out area and nearby viewing of this
species. An interesting story is that this easy to see
species was unknown in the west Kootenay area until
my arrival here in the spring of 1997. Besides finding
it in the study area; I have seen it at my home, at
the office in Castlegar, at Murphy Creek, flying across
the highway between Genelle and Trail and also at the
McDonalds restaurant in Trail. I also received a telephone
report of this species at Nelson.
icelus Dreamy Duskywing
9 May to 12 June. Common
in areas with deciduous trees or shrubbery.
pacuvius Pacuvius Duskywing
9 May to 5 July, uncommon.
Watch for this species in the vicinity of Ceanothus
plants. The species name is based on butterflies
that occur in New Mexico. Our local butterflies do not
look the same and range maps in Opler and Wright (1999)
show a significant disjunction between nominate pacuvius
and the putative subspecies lilius. So I am left
wondering if we really have the species pacuvius
persius Persius Duskywing
26 April to 21 July,
common. This ‘species’ could easily be a
ghost, at least in western North America, because a)
it was described from extreme eastern North America
and its continental range has a very suspicious discontinuity
between eastern and western representatives, and b)
the most recent ‘revision’ of Erynnis
that I could find is Burns (1964). Surprisingly he did
not revise this species but, to his credit, refers to
the persius complex and makes the observation
that "Obviously, without extensive biologic data,
it is impossible to set the limits of any forms of the
"persius" complex even approximately."
So until someone musters the time, resources and intestinal
fortitude to venture into this untrodden territory;
we will continue to pretend that we have an Erynnis
here that is the species persius but without
really being at all sure that this is so. News Flash:
As I am finishing this report; I hear from Don Lafontaine
who kindly took a couple of interesting study area Erynnis
to Washington for examination by John Burns. I asked
for another opinion on these specimens because they
look indistinguishable from the summer form of Erynnis
afranius that I am familiar with from the Alberta
prairies and they look nothing like the "normal"
persius in this area. Based on genitalic characters,
John places these as persius. But assuming that
the genitalic features in fact have taxonomic significance;
this resulted in some collegial musings about perhaps
these being the real persius and the other more
widespread phenotype in western Canada being something
else again ! Stay tuned for further exciting developments
as butterfly people try to sort this one out.
ruralis Two-banded Checkered Skipper
29 April to 23 May.
Locally common along the road in early spring; this
species flies earlier than the generally similar-looking
Pyrgus communis, which helps with identification
without resorting to netting of individuals.
communis Common Checkered Skipper
29 May to 2 August,
uncommon. This species is known from relatively few
locations in BC but can be regularly seen in the study
palaemon Arctic Skipper
9 May to 9 July. Common
but seems to seldom stray far from moist grassy forest
or shrubbery; Layberry et al. (1998) state that only
subspecies mandan occurs in North America. I
do not agree with this because a) it is totally inconsistent
with my own field observations in western Canada, and
b) it is inconsistent with the perspective provided
by Mattoon and Tilden (1998). In fact, there are five
named subspecies in North America. One of these, mackenziei
(Wyatt 1965), was treated as a synonym of mandan
by Ferris (1989) and left with an unresolved status
by Mattoon and Tilden - because they did not have the
original description, did not know where the type locality
was and consequently could not conduct a comparative
review of topotypical material. It just so happens that
I do have a copy of the original description and thus
am able to report that Wyatt described a phenotype that
is clearly not the same as mandan. So what does
this have to do with this species in the study area
? Two things: the valley does not have subspecies mandan
and some work is needed before a defensible subspecies
assignment can be made.
garita Garita Skipperling
21 June to 12 July.
Common at the meadow near Tillicum Creek but very easy
to overlook as it flits about among the tall grasses.
comma Common Branded Skipper
5 July to12 September.
I actually wrote the Hesperia accounts last because
this is a group of species that is fraught with taxonomic
and nomenclatural uncertainties. Hesperia taxonomy
in western North America is very much an evolving scene
which is not at all clear. Recent literature suggests
I could be finding two species here and that the best
names to use are those that you see before you. My preliminary
observations on local study material support the idea
of two species. At least you will see two phenotypes
of Hesperia here: one that might fit best under
the present concept of Hesperia comma
but not under the subspecies name of manitoba.
Review of the literature and a color image of the lectotype
of manitoba provided by Don Lafontaine suggests
that the name manitoba is inappropriate to use
for these darker butterflies with a ventral hind wing
that is distinctly shaggy in appearance and with a very
sharply pointed fore wing. I have not yet found an existing
name that is a really good fit with the appearance of
colorado Western Branded Skipper
Also flying here during
the same time window noted above is a phenotype that
is smaller, paler on the dorsal surface and with a smooth
light greenish ventral hind wing. These appear to fly
more abundantly in August, whereas the previous phenotype
is showing up more in July. These smaller, lighter,
later morphs can be called colorado for the time
being but the truth is that these butterflies are difficult
to toss into existing taxonomic pigeon holes. This could
mean that they are all one and the same amazingly variable
species that flies in many habitats over a very long
flight period but could also mean we have not yet established
the right pigeon holes. These two Hesperia are
not uncommon in the valley but they seemingly fly at
the speed of sound when it is warm and they are usually
difficult to net for close examination.
mystic Long Dash Skipper
12 & 13 July. Uncommon
and most likely to be seen in moist grassy areas.
9 July. This species
is only known from a few records in Canada because it
is a migrant rather than resident species.
sylvanoides Woodland Skipper
13 July to 12 September,
abundant, in fact more than abundant. In 1999 I witnessed
huge swarms of this skipper in the study area and other
locations in the west Kootenay area; they avidly puddle
and nectar or perch on flower heads including knapweed.
vialis Roadside Skipper
9 May to 12 July. Common
but you will need to look closely to see this very small
smintheus Smintheus Parnassian
8 & 20 July, rare.
Breeds at higher elevations where stonecrop grows in
patches but wandering individuals can be seen in the
zelicaon Anise Swallowtail
29 April to 1 August,
common. Like the other swallowtails, it can be seen
puddling. This species seems to spend more time flying
close to the ground in comparison to the other swallowtails
and its dark wing bases make it easy to identify at
rutulus Western Tiger Swallowtail
21 May to 1 August,
common. It is impossible to separate from the next species
unless viewed closely.
multicaudatus Two-tailed Swallowtail
21 May to 24 July, common.
It must be seen closely to separate it from the preceding
species. No subspecies have been recognized in this
species until recently. If you want to hang a subspecies
name on loc
al populations; it would
be pusillus (Austin and Emmel 1998b).
eurymedon Pale Swallowtail
9 May to 24 July, common.
The whitish appearance makes it easy to identify at
menapia Pine White
17 August, rare. I only
found it once but it is likely to be more abundant.
This species spends much time up in the pines, not down
at human eye level; look up, look way up !
beckerii Becker's White
8 August. Definitely
rare and it may be a visitor to the study area rather
than a regular resident.
28 May to 22 August,
uncommon. This species is more easily encountered at
higher elevation hill tops.
marginalis Margined White
17 April to11 September,
common. Under very warm conditions I most often saw
this species in and near shaded areas. See the Discussion
section story of the phantom white. The study area sports
butterflies which fall within the subspecies reicheli
and also those that match the description of the summer
form pallidissima of the subspecies mcdunnoughi.
These pallidissima phenotypes are not to be confused
with the white summer broods of reicheli - because
they are also present in the spring ! This is a most
curious situation without a definitive answer. One unproved
interpretation is to treat this as individual variation
while another, equally unproved interpretation is to
view these phenotypes as distinct species.
rapae Cabbage White
26 April to 12 September.
It was abundant during the hot, dry summer of 1998 but
uncommon in the cool wet season of 1999. Most butterflies
appear to be less active when it is really hot but this
species gets very active and flies considerably faster
in the heat. No need to visit the study area for this
butterfly; just check your garden in the summer. It
is that critter some people refer to as the "cabbage
ausonides Large Marble
21 to 28 May. Uncommon
in the past and has not been recorded in recent years.
stella Stella Orangetip
17 April to 11 June.
It is abundant in the spring and very easy to identify
by its highly visible orange wing tips. Study area Anthocharis
are quite variable. Some specimens resemble the Sierra
Nevada phenotypes of stella; while others fit
nicely into a study series of the subspecies browningi
which was described from Utah. At this time it is impossible
to say with certainty whether the study area population
is simply showing a high level of individual variablity
or the differing phenotypes have taxonomic significance.
Taxonomy of the Anthocharis ‘sara’ complex
in western North America is under active debate and
it is unclear at this time how things will play out
in terms of recognizing one or more than one species.
philodice Clouded Sulphur
9 May to 12 September.
This species was abundant in 1998 but only common in
1999. Available literature suggests I should report
the butterflies I found here as subspecies eriphyle.
But Edwards (1876) described eriphyle as a species
distinct from C. philodice. I see butterflies
here that agree with the concept of eriphyle
and those that agree with nominate philodice.
Maybe this is proof that they are the same species after
all but then maybe it proves the opposite. I am not
aware of any published data that necessarily supports
either interpretation. The name eriphyle has
bounced around in the literature as either a full species,
a subspecies of philodice, or as a subspecies
of eurytheme. But then it was not that many years
ago when the literature treated both philodice
and eurytheme as one species. Additional work
on this group is certainly in order.
eurytheme Orange Sulphur
21 May to 12 September,
abundant in 1998 but uncommon in 1999. The best place
to view this and the preceding species in numbers is
at the alfalfa field beside the road near Waneta Dam,
but it is best to time your visit when the alfalfa is
in flower and before it is mowed.
alexandra Queen Alexandra's Sulphur
12 June to 26 July,
uncommon. Seldom previously reported from the west Kootenay
area; this is another local butterfly that does not
want to cooperate with what contemporary literature
says it should look like - but because other researchers
are actively working on this one and it is top secret;
I cannot say more.
heteronea Blue Copper
12 June to 12 July.
Uncommon in the study area, where it is most likely
to be seen near the Eriogonum plants in the Waneta
Dam area. It is common at higher elevations in the west
Kootenay area and will fly considerable distance to
puddle; A brief scan of recent literature (Emmel and
Pratt 1998), coupled with personal field work in southern
BC and southern Alberta suggests that there may be another
"taxonomic rat" lurking in the weeds. Future
literature that you see may use the name heteronea
for these butterflies but then again it may not. The
mere fact that two butterflies are generally bluish
on top and generally whitish underneath does not necessarily
mean that they are the same subspecies or same species.
It is the assumption that superficial similarity necessarily
equates to one species that sits behind the stories
of the phantom white and phantom blue later in this
helloides Purplish Copper
9 May to 12 September.
Likely common but the taxonomic issues and lack of time
to fully curate study material makes this a wild guess
only. Western North American representatives of the
helloides and dorcas complexes are in
need of further research. Various workers have placed
western mountain populations either as subspecies of
dorcas or as subspecies of helloides (eg.
Ferris 1977, Scott 1978). Unless I have missed something
in the literature; it appears that past work has suffered
from the starting assumption that there are only two
species. It is equally plausible that there are more
than two species in the western range of this group
of Lycaena. All that I can say about the present
study area (and other parts of southern BC) at this
time, is that there are too many individuals with florus/dorcas
characteristics showing up in study samples to write
them off as aberrant helloides specimens without
further investigation. Even the nominal species helloides
needs some attention. A scan of 14 butterfly books
shows that helloides supposedly occurs from sea
level to high elevations in mountains, in a vast array
of ecosystems and across a large area of North America.
Depending on the book you consult; you will be informed
that the ventral hind wing is ochre or pale violet brown
or gray or dull yellowish brown or pinkish tan or light
tan or orange brown or warm gray ochre or yellow ochre
or orangish ochre. You can be forgiven for wondering
if these descriptions all refer to the same species.
nivalis Lilac-bordered Copper
1 August. More than
one record is certainly available but given the large
number of interesting phenotype shenanigans in Pend-d’Oreille
butterflies, I have not had time to properly curate
all study material. Newcomer (1963) provided an interesting
overview of this nominal species. Dornfeld (1980) commented
on two phenotypes. Mostly I agree with the comment made
by Ferris and Brown(1981) where they refer to "the
chaos that is presently nivalis". Study
area material and material from other areas of the west
Kootenay area does not agree with browni (dos
Passos 1938) or bichroma (Emmel and Pratt 1998).
Nor does it agree entirely with nominate nivalis,
warnermontana (Emmel and Pratt 1998) or praetexta
(Austin 1998); although they appear to be allied with
this latter group. The available literature suggests
there are two basic phenotypes of the nominal species
nivalis: one with a strongly bicolored ventral
hind wing and one that has a ventral hind wing that
is weakly bicolored or even not bicolored at all. This
deliberately simple and partial characterization of
nivalis phenotypes should not cause you to view
this as a simple color morph issue. But I do not think
these are subspecies at all since there is no published
evidence to support such an approach and I have found
two phenotypes flying sympatrically at Phoenix ski hill
near Greenwood. Sympatric occurrence of two phenotypes
has also been reported by Dornfeld (1980) and Hinchliff
(1994,1996). Sympatric occurrence of two dramatically
different phenotypes normally suggests that species
rather than subspecies may be at play. Possible host
plant differences also support this line of thinking.
Polygonum douglasii is reported as the host plant
for the phenotype with the strongly bicolored ventral
hindwing. But in BC this species is red or blue listed
(depending on subspecies) and I have not seen Polygonum
in most places where I have found the local phenotype.
A candidate host plant for these butterflies is a plant
that looks suspiciously like Rumex acetosa ssp
alpestris. Thus, it may be that BC actually has
two species presently placed under the nominal species
nivalis. It is also interesting to note that
Jones (1951) reported nivalis as present in the
Kootenay area, even though this has not been reported
in more recent literature.
mariposa Mariposa Copper
7 July &1 August.
Only seen a couple of times but this species seems to
be abundant at higher elevations nearby.
californicum California Hairstreak
7 June to 20 July. Few
records but interesting insofar as this one was not
previously known east of the Grand Forks area. Other
writers have speculated that this nominal species may
be a species complex or stated that revision is needed,
so do not be surprised if in the future you see this
BC butterfly surface with a shiny new name. James Scott
advises that he has found these butterflies to be conspicuous
during the daily mate-locating period which in his area
was late afternoon. So maybe the difficulty in seeing
some hairstreaks has to do with not looking for them
at the right time of day.
sylvinum Sylvan Hairstreak
5 & 13 July. Few
records but since some hairstreaks seem to spend more
time walking about in the shrubbery than flying where
observers can see them, any abundance assessment is
pure conjecture - certainly they are not very ‘observable’.
The subspecies name nootka has recently been
provided by M. Fisher in Scott (1998b).
saepium Hedgerow Hairstreak
12 June to 2 August,
common. This hairstreak is far more cooperative with
butterfly watchers and is more frequently visible while
perching on shrubs or visiting flowers.
titus Coral Hairstreak
20 June to 2 August,
common and frequently seen. A small hill top above Waneta
Dam is a good place to find 5 species of hairstreaks
- and test your eyesight as well.
affinis Immaculate Green Hairstreak
21 May, rare. Not seen
in recent years; this and the next species may have
been adversely affected by the knapweed invasion.
sheridanii Sheridan's Hairstreak
21 May, rare. If you
want to see this and the preceding species, just hang
around Eriogonum patches in the spring.
26 April to12 July.
This small hairstreak is certainly common but understandably
difficult to see high up in the western red cedar trees
which it uses as a larval host plant. Best to loiter
near cedars where there are flowers and wait for them
to come down to eye level for nectar.
augustinus Brown Elfin
22 April to 5 July.
Common, especially near Ceanothus plants. The
nominal species Callophrys augustinus is another
taxon that needs considered research to determine if
it really is only one species or if some of the named
subspecies are in fact distinct species. Southern BC
material is usually placed in the subspecies iroides.
Unfortunately the material I collected in the study
area and nearby Columbia River valley does not agree
with the syntype illustrated by Emmel et al. (1998a).
Neither do they agree with the description of iroides
provided by Dornfeld (1980). I compared local specimens
with study material from the general area where the
neotype of nominate augustinus was collected
(dos Passos 1943) to see if the nominate subspecies
name could be used here. What I discovered was that
the readily observable phenotypic differences are highly
suggestive of species level differences. All I can say
with certainty is that local butterflies are generally
similar to the nominal species augustinus as
presently constructed in the literature but they do
not fit the description of either nominate augustinus
nor subspecies iroides.
polios Hoary Elfin
22 April, rare, not
seen in recent years. Look for this butterfly early
in the spring in the vicinity of its larval host plant,
bearberry (Arctostaphyos uva-ursi). I may have
accidentally violated the rules of zoological nomenclature
by calling this polios rather than polia.
If so, I may be shot at sunrise by the name police.
But seriously; I do recognize that names should be standardized
- if for no other reason than the advent of those dumb
computers that think the words polios and polia
in a database are different species.
eryphon Western Pine Elfin
9 May to 11 June. Common
but this is another species that spends much time higher
up in the trees. Pines are used as host plants.
melinus Gray Hairstreak
24 April to 12 September.
Abundant and easy to see because it is fairly active.
Seemingly multi-brooded, with freshly emerged individuals
to be found from early spring to late summer.
comyntas Eastern Tailed Blue
13 May to11 September.
Another local species that has been overlooked in the
past. It was previously only known in BC from a few
specimens collected some years ago in the East Kootenay
area. I have found it to be common in the study area
and have also found it at Brilliant and Genelle. Dyar
(1904) suggests it was found at Kaslo at the turn of
the century. The plot thickens however, when one realizes
that at least these local butterflies do not look the
same as eastern specimens. In fact the level of phenotypic
difference I see is consistent with the level of difference
in two species of Everes in Europe. Fortunately,
the chaos that is Everes in North America is
under study by Jeffrey Oliver so we can remain hopeful
that the present taxonomy based on assumptions and opinions
will either be confirmed as a wise choice or amended
with a foundation of substantive data, clear thinking
and field work. This butterfly and the next one are
presently suffering from the unproved assumption that
there are only two species of Everes to contend
with and everything that we see must be slotted into
one pigeon hole or the other.
amyntula Western Tailed Blue
12 June to 26 July.
Apparently uncommon but this may simply be an untrue
impression due to not spending enough time in the right
habitat during the flight season. This species is single
brooded here, whereas the Eastern Tailed Blue is at
least two brooded and may even be three brooded here
based on flight dates.
‘echo’ Western Azure
17 April to 22 July.
See the story of the phantom blue in the discussion
section of this report for more fascinating information
on the taxonomy and nomenclature of this butterfly.
Recent literature reports Celastrina ladon nigrescens
as the subspecies to be expected here and Celastrina
ladon echo west of the Okanagan. However, I know
from personal field work and viewing of specimens collected
by Dave Threatful that the taxa nigrescens and
echo are not the same species as the more northerly
Celastrina ladon lucia. I have been advised that
yet to be published electrophoretic data lends support
to the obvious phenotypic differences. Pavulaan (1995)
and Nielsen (1999) have correctly separated the taxa
ladon and lucia as full species so we
cannot justifiably use ladon as the species name
for our western Celastrina. Wright (1995) presents
observations that indicate true ladon is a uniquely
eastern North American beast. More work needs to be
done of course but my preliminary observations point
to the possible presence in the study area of two species
of Celastrina: a single brooded phenotype for
which the name nigrescens is available; and a
double brooded phenotype apparently related to the western
‘echo’ group of Celastrina.
Since the ‘echo' phenotype is not the same
as nominate echo; the use of this name is a matter
of not having a definitive name available and once the
necessary work has been done, it may be that the name
bakeri (Clench 1944) will appear in the future
as the best name to use either as a subspecies or as
21 May to 3 June, local
and uncommon. This is another species to watch for around
21 to 29 May, rare.
So far only found at lupines in the Waneta Dam area.
lygdamus Silvery Blue
24 April to 30 May;
a common spring species where lupines grow; the work
of Dirig and Cryan (1991) combined with my personal
observations in western Canada suggest that there are
potentially profitable avenues of research to be pursued
and that the notion of a nominal species lygdamus
in western Canada may not be the reality of the future.
At least my observations do not agree with placement
of all populations under the subspecies name couperi
as suggested by Layberry et al. (1998).
idas Northern Blue
23 July, rare. It is
unclear if the one individual wandered down from higher
elevations to puddle or if there is an as yet unknown
breeding population in the study area. The single specimen
collected is representative of what is treated in the
literature as subspecies atrapraetextus of the
species idas. But atrapraetextus was originally
described as a distinct species. My preliminary observations
based on local field work in the west Kootenay area
and Okanagan highlands suggest that distinct species
status could be correct. Work is underway to formally
reconsider the best taxonomic placement. It seems Nabokov
(1949) decreed that atrapraetextus is a subspecies
rather than a species but darned if I can find any evidence
in his paper to support that view. Layberry et al. (1998)
suggest that I should use the subspecies name ferniensis
for the butterfly I found in the study area and also
for other southern BC populations. All I can say at
this time is that my recent field studies strongly suggest
that the situation is considerably more complex than
this. In fact I have begun exploring the hypothesis
that rather than one subspecies, there could be three
saepiolus Greenish Blue
12 June to 23 July,
uncommon in 1998 but common in 1999. Look for this widespread
species wherever low clovers grow.
icarioides Boisduval’s Blue
13 May to 5 July. Common
where the lupines grow.
lupini Lupine Blue
13 May to 12 June. Common
where its host plant, Eriogonum, grows. Note
the ridiculous common name for this butterfly that does
not feed on lupines. The subspecies present in the study
area has historically been viewed as a subspecies of
I. acmon. Scott (1998) has reassigned the subspecies
lutzi to the species lupini. I agree with
this change; as do Opler and Wright (1999).
leto Leto Fritillary
20 June to 12 September.
A common, large and colorful species that is easy to
see in the summer; especially while it is nectaring
on thistles or knapweed flowers. This western butterfly
has been treated as a subspecies of the distinctly different
eastern species S. cybele ever since dos Passos
and Grey (1947) presented this interpretation - without
supporting rationale. Layberry et al. (1998) suggest
this should be reconsidered. In fact I looked into this,
both in the field and in specimen collections, many
years ago. More recently Ted Pike of Calgary, Alberta
has looked for evidence to support the traditional taxonomy
and so has Steve Kohler in Montana. We have not been
able to find any support for treating leto as
a subspecies of cybele so it seems kind of silly
to keep using an arrangement published in a list more
than 50 years ago when there is no contemporary evidence
in support of the old arrangement.
zerene Zerene Fritillary
4 July to12 September.
Common, but presence of two phenotypes here and elsewhere
in southern BC, southern Alberta and western Montana
leaves me with an uneasy feeling about the adequacy
of present taxonomy. This phenomenon has also been noticed
by Ted Pike and Steve Kohler. At the very least it creates
difficulty in providing coherent descriptions for beginning
atlantis Atlantis Fritillary
26 July and 1 August.
Uncommon and more likely to be seen in moister habitats
and higher elevations in this area.
5 July to 1 August.
Uncommon and like the previous species this one may
also find the study area climate unappealing at lower
hydaspe Hydaspe Fritillary
21 June to 8 August.
Common but not nearly so in comparison to moister forest
selene Silver-bordered Fritillary
9 May to 19 August,
common but very local. It is two brooded, with a spring
flight and a summer flight. Look for this butterfly
in very moist areas without a tree canopy.
23 May to 7 July, uncommon.
This is a very characteristic moist forest species in
southern BC and since I tend to not spend much time
in moist shaded forests, it took many years before I
finally saw this species in BC. So why do I avoid moist
shaded forest when I am looking for butterflies ? Well
because – they are pathetic in terms of butterfly
diversity. But do not accuse me of dumping on such habitats
because I do know that they contain many other fascinating
plant and animal groups.
palla Northern Checkerspot
12 June to 2 August,
common. Modern literature assigns material from southern
BC to the subspecies calydon, described from
Colorado. Both calydon and nominate palla
(from California) are reported to have cream to yellow
colored bands on the ventral hind wing. Examination
of study area specimens and specimens from other southern
BC localities reveals that some do fit this description
but also reveals that many specimens have a distinctly
clean white to silvered white banding on the ventral
hind wing. No defensible explanation can be offered
for this curious phenomenon at this time. Individual
variability or differences with taxonomic implications;
take your pick.
cocyta Pearl Crescent
13 May to 22 August.
Abundant wherever asters grow.
pulchella Field Crescent
9 May to 20 June. Common
but not as widespread as the previous species. If you
look at various books you will see that this butterfly
has been victimized by nomenclatural football precipitated
by people prying into old literature and applying the
rules of nomenclature. One older name you will see is
campestris. Another, more recent, name that appears
is pratensis. A few years ago, Scott (1994) plumbed
the depths of the old name sewer, did a very comprehensive
investigation, applied the rules and concluded that
pulchella is the correct name to use. I recently
reviewed the differing views again. Without boring you
with all the sordid details; I concluded that Scott’s
analysis is compelling and appears to be compliant with
the rules. I will, of course, cheerfully eat crow and
change my mind on this name issue if a more compelling
case can be brought to my attention. Local populations
have been assigned to the subspecies owimba (Scott
mylitta Mylitta Crescent
29 April to 12 September,
common and widespread. It seems to be at least two brooded
anicia Anicia Checkerspot
9 May to 20 July, abundant.
This and the next "pseudospecies" can be seen
very abundantly during their peak flight, especially
in puddling areas.
chalcedona Chalcedona Checkerspot
This is not a definitive
taxonomic assignment; rather it is a communications
assignment to alert the reader to the fact that you
will see two phenotypes of Euphydryas here -
one that fits nicely into the species concept of anicia
and another that agrees nicely with the taxon Euphydryas
chalcedona wallacensis. Four butterfly people have
examined study material and opinions are evenly divided
between those who see one species and those who see
two species. The taxonomy of the Euphydryas anicia/chalcedona
complex in North America is a Gordian Knot of epic proportions.
The final word has not yet been said on whether the
various taxa and populations are best viewed as one,
two or more than two species. And then I see a two month
flight period over a trifling elevation range and continue
satyrus Satyr Comma
17 April to12 September,
common. Watch for this and the other Polygonia
sitting on the road and loitering about streamside areas.
If you want to find caterpillars of this butterfly;
check out the stinging nettle patches - but carefully.
Cris Guppy tells me that the caterpillars hang out in
leaves that are folded over and hanging downward.
faunus Green Comma
29 March to 30 August,
common. A widespread species about which I cannot think
of anything interesting to say except that subspecies
level variation in North America does not seem to have
been adequately documented.
gracilis Hoary Comma
29 March to11 September,
uncommon. Study area individuals are quite grey on the
ventral surface and thus best wear the subspecies name
zephyrus. I hasten to add however, that regional
phenotypes from different parts of the range of this
species in North America, and even in BC, are quite
dramatically different. These have never been fully
described or illustrated so by all means have fun getting
published illustrations to always neatly agree with
the butterflies you see in various areas.
oreas Oreas Comma
29 May, rare. Only seen
17 April to11 September.
Recent research suggests that the genus name for this
butterfly should be Roddia. Some researchers
have suggested that the species name is a nomen nudum
but this matter remains to be fully elucidated. This
butterfly experiences episodes of unusual abundance,
such as in 1999 when it was exceedingly abundant and
hundreds could be seen along short stretches of forest
roads. Highway carnage was also visible in a number
of areas in the west Kootenay area.
20 July to 12 September,
uncommon. This species appears to be a regular migrant
to the valley.
antiopa Mourning Cloak
11 April to 23 July,
common. This species and some other large nymphalids
like the Polygonia have an interesting life cycle.
Unlike most temperate area butterflies that spend the
cold months in egg, larval or pupal stages; these have
a natural antifreeze in their system which allows them
to over winter as adults. The adults then emerge early
in the spring to mate and continue the life cycle.
milberti Milbert's Tortoise Shell
11 May to 12 July. Uncommon
in this warm dry area.
cardui Painted Lady
21 June to 12 September.
Common in 1998 but not seen in 1999. This species is
known for its migrations from more southerly areas.
Literature suggests this may be on a more or less 7
to 10 year cycle (see for example Myres 1985). It has
even been known to experience population blooms sufficient
for the caterpillar frass to contaminate crops (Byers
lorquini Lorquin's Admiral
11 June to 12 September,
abundant. At least two brooded, this colorful species
can be reliably seen in the study area.
9 May to 13 July, common.
This species has been variously listed as C. tullia
or C. ampelos in the literature. My reasons for
assigning the Pend-d’Oreille material to the species
C. california are similar to deciding whether
to use tullia or inornata during writing
of Alberta Butterflies (Bird et al. 1995). There
appears to be no evidence to support the notion that
C. tullia is present throughout the entire range
of ringlets in North America. A paper by Davenport (1941)
is sometimes cited as evidence (most recently by Webster
1998) that we should call all our North American material
tullia but this evidence seems to consist of
a casual statement that the populations on the opposite
sides of the Bering Strait "are hardly to be considered
distinct". It is noteworthy that Davenport plainly
states "… I have purposely neglected to separate
the Coenonympha of the New World from those of
the Old…". In fact, nothing has ever been
published to connect these far northwestern populations
with taxa such as inornata or ampelos.
In the case of southern BC, Porter and Geiger (1988)
provide compelling evidence that the butterfly previously
treated as the species ampelos is in fact correctly
placed as a subspecies of C. california.
pegala Common Wood Nymph
4 July to 12 September.
This nominal species is also displaying some highly
suspicious characteristics in the study area and elsewhere
in southern BC. The name boopis has historically
been used as the subspecies name of choice for southern
BC. However, I reviewed relevant literature (Austin
1992; Brown 1965; Emmel et al.1998b; Hinchliff 1996)
and comparative study material from Vancouver Island,
northern BC and southern Alberta. This brief review
has caused me to conclude that the best subspecies name
to use for one of the pegala phenotypes of the
study area is ariane - at least for those butterflies
that have the appropriate features of brown coloration,
striated ventral hind wing and multiple ocelli on the
ventral hind wing. The situation is clouded by the sympatric
presence of another pegala phenotype which is
distinguished by its darker greyish brown appearance,
less ocellated ventral hind wing and ‘smooth’,
non-striated distal portion of the ventral hind wing.
This interesting situation might only be an undocumented
level of variability in the species but it could just
as easily signify the presence of two species in the
nominal species pegala.
sthenele Great Basin
22 July. Hinchliff (1996)
reports C. sthenele within a few miles of the
study area in Washington State. So it is not surprising
that this species would show up in Canada. What is interesting
is that this butterfly is not subspecies paulus
as reported by Hinchliff for Washington and Layberry
et al. (1998) for other areas in BC. Austin and Emmel
(1998a) have recently described subspecies sineocellata.
A fresh study area male is an excellent fit in size
and appearance with the holotype illustration in the
original description. Austin and Emmel also point out
that subspecies paulus is a Great Basin endemic.
This, in conjunction with the advent of sineocellata,
leaves the Okanagan and Fraser valley populations without
a subspecies name. I know from personal field work in
BC and Nevada that these populations are not the same
as paulus. The Cercyonis populations of
the study area are fiendishly interesting. I must confess
that I almost missed this interesting situation by assuming
that there was "nothing interesting" going
on with these butterflies. More research is needed.
oetus Small Wood Nymph
13 July and 7 August.
Common in grassy openings at higher elevations but seldom
seen in the valley bottom; Layberry et al. (1998) suggest
that I should attach the subspecies name silvestris
to this species, but once more I must respectfully differ
because they do not look like silvestris and
those people who have been studying silvestris
in its homeland place it as a subspecies of sthenele
(Emmel et al. 1998c).
epipsodea Common Alpine
9 May to 11 June, common.
The genus common name ‘alpine’ is a misnomer
for this species in Canada. Although it does fly in
some high elevation areas it is predominantly a species
of moist grasslands at low elevations. The subspecies
hopfingeri was described from Okanagan County, Washington
(Ehrlich 1954). Hinchliff (1996) shows this subspecies
as being present adjacent to the study area, so this
could be an appropriate subspecies name to use here.
I have to be vague once again because I simply have
not had time to do the necessary work to form a definitive