Butterfly Rites of Spring I: Adult Hibernators

February 15, 2021

By Steve Cary

But first, a big “THANK YOU” to Bryan Reynolds for his fun and informative mid-winter posts. I’m learning a lot from him and hope to team up with him on some future stories as we go along.


Here in New Mexico’s mid-continent, mid-latitude setting, all resident life forms including butterflies have ways to deal with challenging times. Winter, for example, is cold enough (regular sub-freezing temperatures), long enough (few to several months), and predictable enough (annual) to effectively sort adapted from non-adapted creatures. Can’t get through a long, cold winter? Then you don’t live here on a permanent, resident basis.

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Genomics Analysis Reveals Stealth Butterfly Species

December 20, 2020

By Steven J. Cary

But first, the news. Butterflies of New Mexico has received some important updates. For example, excellent photographs by Albuquerque’s Stephanie Dzur have been added to species accounts for Monarch, Queen and Painted Lady. Second, I uploaded a recent Rob Wu photograph of a Common or White Checkered-Skipper that is a bilateral gynandromorph: male on the left, female on the right. These are quite unusual in any species, so check it out. Finally, accomplished nature photographer Bryan Reynolds has generously contributed dozens of his superb butterfly images, thus elevating the overall quality of the book. Stay tuned for future blog posts relating Bryan’s butterfly photography adventures in New Mexico.

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Huachuca Dreams

November 10, 2020

By Steven J. Cary

Marcy and I laid out our October travel plans in four parts: (1) Bryce Canyon, UT; (2) Grand Canyon’s North Rim, AZ; (3) Palm Desert and San Diego, CA; and (4) Huachuca Mountains, AZ. I did not expect butterfly opportunities at every location and I was not surprised when lateness of the season, high altitude, and ongoing regional drought nixed meaningful butterflying at Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon. We had to settled for scenery — poor us! San Diego was essentially a fun family visit in a huge urban area, though we did see one Monarch. Palm Desert worked out very nicely for butterflies as I posted last month in “Palm Desert.”

Upon leaving San Diego, we returned eastward along I-8 and I-10, then made camp in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona, about halfway home. Place names such as Coronado National Forest and Cochise County tell you a lot about the area’s deep history. That region is highly regarded for its sky island landscapes in which geologically upthrust mountain ranges punctuate broad, down-dropped, desert basins, creating physiographic relief exceeding more than 5,000 feet. Resulting local ecosystems encompass desert scrublands and semi-arid grasslands up through oak/pine/juniper woodlands and even mixed conifer forests where summits approach 10,000 feet above sea level. In this biologically rich area, the Mexican Sierra Madre exerts a strong influence over flora and fauna, making it unique within the boundaries of the US. New Mexico’s Bootheel exhibits similar zoogeographical affinities, but not to the same degree or with the same public access.

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Palm Desert

Oct. 27, 2020

By Steven J. Cary

It sounds ridiculous now that winter has arrived, but things were different in September! Marcy and I wanted to get away from hot, dry Santa Fe for a few weeks, so we hitched up our travel trailer and camped our way west toward a rendezvous with her sister in San Diego. On our first night, October 1, we encamped at BLM’s Sand Island Campground, which is in southeast Utah along the San Juan River just downstream of Bears Ears National Monument. We had an experience there and, although no butterflies were involved, I have no choice but to share it with you.

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High Season

September 17, 2020

By Steve Cary

A Quick Announcement: The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) has centralized all “Butterflies of New Mexico” content so it can be accessed here. If you go to that site you can see my blog posts conveniently listed on the right-hand side. The main part of the page is an introduction to “Butterflies of New Mexico,” a completely new and unique online text and photographic resource covering all our 300+ species, which is now available for your use.

In the Introduction, find the list of all the families and subfamilies. Click on any of those to go to your family or subfamily of interest. Within each family or subfamily is a species list and soon you will be able to click on a species to go right to text and images for that species. Currently you can do that for the Swallowtails, Metalmarks and Whites. The other hot links are in-process, and it is a long, tedious process.

My heart-felt thanks go to PEEC, particularly Board Member Jennifer Macke who continues to expertly handle all the webpage design and functionality for the Butterflies of New Mexico project. PEEC staffer Rachel Landman continues to steer me safely through the blogoscape. Katie Bruell guides it all from her perch at the helm of the ship. You three are AWESOME!

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