Field Notes: Lower Rio Grande River Valley, Day 2

2013 Aug 15 National Butterfly Center, Mission TX

Day Two of my week in the LRGV was an all-day experience at the National Butterfly Center.  The bait logs still had not been replenished, so they were just a couple dozen dry sticks with no action.  But a couple of new things had shown up in the gardens overnight, so I had a pretty good day after all, even without any new life birds!

White Peacock, 2013 Aug 14, Mission TX

White Peacock, 2013 Aug 14, Mission TX

First (and probably best, in my mind) was the veritable explosion of White Peacocks as different to yesterday.  They were all over the garden in various stages of freshness; in the formal garden they were partial to the lantana, and in the native garden seemed to be more drawn to the low frogfruit.  Crimson Patches still worked over the croton in bloom in good numbers.

The frogfruit, though, was in full bloom and quite a compulsion for lots of small stuff – White-patched Skippers, Phaon Crescent, and Common Mestra among them.  A newcomer (and lifer for me) was Celia’s Roadside-skipper.

Celia's Roadside Skipper, 2013 Aug 14, Mission TX

Celia’s Roadside Skipper, 2013 Aug 14, Mission TX

Also in bloom was a spectacular small flowering tree, Mexican olive (Cordia boissieri), with flowers the size and shape of plain white catalpa flowers.  They proved irresistible to some of the big orange and yellow sulphurs:  Large Orange, Cloudless, and Orange-barred to be sure, but also the spectacular White and Yellow species of Angled-sulphurs.  These were massive; a third or half again larger than Cloudless Sulphurs.  I think of these as the sulphurs with varicose veins; the HW veins are all thick and ropy and raised in bas relief against the lime-green background color.

There were more Gray Crackers haunting the path through the forest, but without bait the numbers had dwindled considerably from the day before, and the Dingy Purplewings and Mexican Bluewings were absent entirely.

As I made my last circuit of the forest edge path bordering the fields, I stopped to admire a native clematis in bloom with small, starry greenish-white flower.  The seed pod is a big fluff of white, giving rise to the common name of Old Man’s Beard.  It’s also the local host of a tiny metalmark, Fatal Metalmark, and sure enough the longer I watched the more of these scintillant little metalmarks I saw – seven in all, not one picture of which turned out well enough to post!  So I’ll leave you with the common blue flying in the LRGV right now, Ceraunus Blue.

Ceraunus Blue, 2013 Aug 14, Mission TX

This entry was posted in Field Trips/Annual Counts, general butterfly news, sightings, state butterflies. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Field Notes: Lower Rio Grande River Valley, Day 2

  1. Dorothy Owen says:

    Please post more of your LRGV trip. Your photos have got me itching to get down there. We are headed there in a few weeks and are excited to hear your experiences. We’ll be hotting the hotspots so any tips/advice appreciated. Any black light stations for night fliers? Sabal Palm?

    • Rick says:

      I’ll be finishing out the trip posts in the next couple of days; came back from the trip for a week of transition to a new post at a new agency and just haven’t had the energy. But it is a truly spectacular place.

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