Sixth Annual White Mountain Butterfly Count

"Butterfly Gothic"

Front row, l to r: John Smiley, Derham Giuliani, Middle row: Jeff Holmquist, Jutta Schmidt-Gengenbach, Madeleine Nash, Kim Kuska, Back row: Denise Waterbury, Tom Nash. Derham we will miss you!

The sixth annual "4th of July" White Mountain Butterfly count was held on Tuesday July 20, 2010. We met at Crooked Creek at 7:30 am on that day. We then headed up to the "NASA flats" high altitude site (13,000' elevation) and found excellent conditions. We counted very many Shasta Blues (Plebejus shasta) as well as a couple of Lupine Blues (P. lupini) and unidentified skippers. Then we headed down to the Barcroft Plateau Dome, Barcroft MacAfee Meadow, and Sheep Pass. These sites were relatively sparse except for several Mexican Cloudywing skippers (Thorybes mexicana) at Barcroft and several Shasta Blues. Campito Meadow was relatively rich, mainly because of a couple of wet seeps providing puddling sites. Five species of blues were found, including over 200 Boisduval's Blues (Plebejus icarioides), and two coppers, Edith's (Lycaena editha) and Lustrous (L. cupreus). We also saw some Colias alexandra and some Becker's Whites (Pontia beckerii). The next site at the Crooked Creek Road was also diverse, though much less abundant, lacking any wet areas. The Crooked Creek pond was unexpectedly dry, as was the spring just west of the station. Still, we found many Boisduval's Blues and several other species.

It is quite interesting that the Shasta Blue remains abundant at the NASA flats high altitude site. John Smiley first noticed this species was very abundant in the summer of 2006, and the count was expanded in 2007 to include this area every year. We subsequently found this species at that site every year since 2006, with large numbers in 2007 and 2010. Large numbers were also noted in August 2008.