Green butterflies: better than green beer

My birding and butterfly-ing time has been limited recently, so I made it priority to get out into the foothills during yesterday’s pleasant weather before spring’s last (?) wind and snow hit the area. Joe and I met up to find some Sandia Hairstreaks in Embudito Canyon.

Sandia Hairstreak in Embudito Canyon. By Joe Schelling.

I coaxed one on to my hand. By Joe Schelling.

We found about half a dozen Sandia Hairstreaks, but our luck on this trip filled in the rest of the Irish flag with the white and orange of a “Sara” Orangetip!

“Sara” Orangetip, likely a Southwestern Orangetip. My little camera came through for me with this bug!

Why the quotes? The taxonomy of the western orangetips is confusing. All populations were once considered one variable species, but close attention to regional variation shows distinct groups. The ranges of each group aren’t well delineated.

Fantastic looking butterfly!

Other butterflies included a skipper of some kind, a Mourning Cloak, and a couple dozen Painted Ladies. This species is undergoing a big flight in the southwest, with up to 10s of thousands seen in Mexico. Fewer are here in New Mexico, but their numbers are on the rise.

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5 Responses to Green butterflies: better than green beer

  1. Peggy says:

    Matt:
    Such beautiful green iridescence on the Sandia Hairstreak in Joe’s picture. Nice tie-in to St. Patrick’s day and, yes, much, much better than green beer (or green bagels)!

    Peggy

    • Matt says:

      I didn’t even think about the Irish colors until I wrote the post. I don’t think there is a species with green, white, and orange colors all together.

      If I’m ever back at the right season, we can search for some green-colored hairstreaks in Maryland.

      • Peggy says:

        I hope we can do that :) I didn’t realize that the butterfly with the folded wings was the orangetip. It really is a fantastic looking butterfly – great picture!

  2. Rebecca Gracey says:

    Matt, I loved seeing the Sandia Hairstreak on your hand. It gives a good perspective of the tiny size of the New Mexico state butterfly.

    • Matt says:

      Joe got a great photo! We should have a good butterfly season this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing more tiny and beautiful hairstreaks, elfins, and blues.

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