Closing Loops

July 18, 2021

By Steve Cary

Before the Loops, here are some announcements and general info:

Sugarite Canyon State Park has its annual Bodacious Butterfly Festival this weekend, July 24-25. Guided butterfly walks will be offered both days. Steve “Butterfly Guy” Cary guides in New Mexico on Saturday, while Mark “Radeaux” Yaeger guides across the Colorado state line in Dorothey Lake Wildlife Management Area on Sunday. Come and see all the cool butterflies Sugarite has to offer!

Butterflies of New Mexico, the on-line encyclopedia of New Mexico butterflies graciously hosted by the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), welcomes a new photographer to its esteemed ranks. Bob Friedrichs, who may have had a birding life before discovering butterflies, has two of his excellent images posted under Uhler’s Arctic.

Remember to post all of your western Monarch sightings to Journey North (photo not essential – they trust you), BAMONA, or Southwest Monarch Study. Western Monarch scientists really need your data!


New Mexico is all over the map, if you will, when it comes to butterflies, at least for the time being. Some places remain crunchy and dry. Christopher Rustay reported on July 5 that along a 3/4 mile outing in normally lush Hondo Canyon, Sandia Mountains, he saw only five individual butterflies representing three species — that’s pretty terrible. At the other extreme, Hira Walker reported that on July 11 in the Jemez Mountains she had “an amazing day along Rio Cebolla … so many flowers in bloom, butterflies everywhere. So many species of butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers, hard to count them all.” Personally, I can vouch that the high country around Ruidoso and Cloudcroft have lots of butterflies, as they normally do. Still other places, mostly in southern and eastern New Mexico, have had destructive amounts of rain, hail and flood. Judy Yellon in Las Cruces indicated that recent intense storms caused a lot of damage to flowers and, evidently, butterflies in much of Doña Ana County.

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Marine Blues Rule Southern New Mexico

June 17, 2021

By Steven J. Cary

Yes, it’s dry, the heat is upon us, surely, and yes, there’s a little smoke in the air. Hey, it’s June, so get over it. The mid-90s in Santa Fe is not pretty, but other places are even hotter, so I’m not complaining. In southwest New Mexico, Elaine Halbedel gets out frequently and reports poor conditions and few butterflies everywhere except in the region’s higher mountains. One thing all our several southern observers agree on . . . Marine Blues are having a good year! It makes sense because their widespread mesquite hosts (their caterpillars will eat virtually any legume) are deep-rooted and less daunted by drought. In the face of dry, hot and smoky, several fun and fascinating stories are offered below, including a remarkable new hairstreak life history, and even a brief video. But first, as they say, some notes from our sponsors:

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Guest Post: New Mexico Butterfly Photography Adventures

May 21, 2021

By Steven J. Cary

This post features another gripping New Mexico butterfly photography adventure courtesy of professional nature photographer Bryan Reynolds! In addition to Bryan’s up-close and personal storytelling, this tale also provides an interesting perspective on the weather — very timely given our ongoing drought. Before we settle down to read Bryan’s lushly illustrated narrative, here are three updates and announcements.

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In Selvi’s Backyard

May 6, 2021

By Steven J. Cary

First, I sincerely tip my hat to all of you who have reached back and told me how much you enjoy reading this blog. My last post was probably a bit of a downer, but your feedback, whether thumbs-up or thumbs-down, delivered via email, PEEC comment, or in person, is a real upper for me. It tells me are you are reading and that makes the whole endeavor worth the effort. Butterflies and butterflyers will experience high times and low times and everything in between. Such is life. Despite dry, cool, windy, dusty conditions, you are still going outside, seeing butterflies and sharing your experiences. The least I can do is write about it; I suppose that is the itch I must scratch.

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Spring Butterflies: Last Rite

April 8, 2021

By Steve Cary

Monarch female (Danaus plexippus) south side of Portales, Roosevelt Co., NM; March 15, 2021. (Photo by James Lofton)

Before I exhaust the “Rites of Spring” genre, I want to touch on several things, then be done with it. First, the truly remarkable ‘ritual’ migrations of Monarch and Painted Lady are underway, but conditions are poor and all such migrants are in for a tough trip this spring. North-bound Monarchs are never abundant in New Mexico because we are usually off-axis from the main migration route from Mexico, and from whatever is happening in greater Arizona. In most years only a few are recorded in our state. This year’s first sighting was in Portales! James Lofton shared the included photo, showing one of a few he saw within a few days of each other. Plagued by drought-like the rest of us, with nectar very scarce, James said: “The dandelion crop [is the] savior this spring.” Then Jim VonLoh shared photos of a monarch nectaring at willows along the Rio Grande near Las Cruces on March 26.

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Butterfly Rites of Spring III: Flower Munchers

March 2021

By Steve Cary

Announcements First:

1. Please welcome Common Mellana (Quasimellana eulogius) to the New Mexico butterfly fauna! I’ve uploaded a brief account to Butterflies of New Mexico so you can check it out. We don’t get new state records very often! Now we need photos: male, female, dorsal, ventral. Have any to share?

2. Species accounts for Carus Skipper and Tropical Least Skipper have been spruced up considerably thanks to the addition of fabulous photos by Jim VonLoh, who we add to our phalanx of photographers.

3. Recent conversations with Paul Opler and Andy Warren eliminated any doubts I had about the identity of the spring-flying dotted blue from near Aztec in San Juan County. Until someone dissects them and proves otherwise, I’m calling it Stanfords’ Blue (Euphilotes stanfordorum). Even better, excellent images of this species from Colorado were provided by Ralph Moore. See the updated species account in Butterflies of New Mexico.

4. In welcoming Ralph to our gallery of photographers, please also see his newly added images of Minor’s Indra Swallowtail (from Colorado, yet . . . ), which we sorely needed. A Papilio paparazzi?

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