It’s been a week since my return from a fabulous butterfly trip in the vicinity of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and I’ve finally had time to go through most of the pictures that made it home with me. Some of my favorites from the trip are posted below.
Organized and led by Jim Brock, great guy and highly experienced butterflier, eight of us including four Canadians and four Americans, ranged from Jackson and Lander, Wyoming to Red Lodge, Montana in search of lots of butterflies in areas Jim expected we’d see good ones. Here’s a picture I took of the rest of the group.
One of our first target species, which surprisingly we’d see on three of the first days of the trip is the Gillett’s Checkerspot, shown here laying her eggs – not something you see just every day.
Here’s a close-up of those eggs that had been laid on many of the leaves of its host plant, the Common Snowberry.
It wasn’t all butterflies, of course. One day while walking quietly along a road looking for butterflies, I was startled by a large creature crashing through the brush I assumed was probably a bear. Turns out it was a moose of all things. It apparently had also been startled perhaps by a vehicle coming down the road, but finally figured out what was going on and stopped running to hide here in the shade.
On the road back from a day trip to Bears Ears Pass, I got a nice shot of a pair of Pronghorn, and on the final day we spotted a pair of browsing grizzly bears way off in the distance.
Not all of the critters were quite that large, however. Probably my favorite picture of the trip (from the more than 1200 that made it home with me) was this Long-tailed Weasel.
We’d first noticed movement in some low shrubs while eating lunch, and on getting up to see what it was, a couple of these guys scurried into hiding while this one stood guard for a minute before dashing off behind them.
Another good picture is of a bird I’d only seen once before in the Chuska Mountains on New Mexico/Arizona, the Dusky Grouse.
Summer in the mountains, especially if there’s been good precipitation, brings out a huge variety of wildflowers that just carpet the meadows and rock outcrops. One of my favorites has always been the Colorado Columbine.
On a smaller scale, down around the size of those butterflies we were chasing were a nice mix of dragonflies and damselflies.
The whole point of the trip, however, was butterflies, of which we’d see a record total of 104 species over the course of the ten-day trip including plenty of ‘lifers’. Of the four tours Jim has led here over the last decade, this was the first to break a hundred species and certainly cause for celebration.
I’ve got lots more pictures (78 of the 104 species) on my website under Wyoming Butterfly Trip, but here’s a sample of a few of the ones we saw. The Coral Hairstreak was one of my target species and one of my ‘lifer’ butterflies, a quite handsome creature.
Hayden’s Ringlet was another new one for me, and this picture came out really well highlighting its distinctive patterning.
I don’t think I’ve seen any Arctic butterflies before, but on this trip we’d pick up four of the five possible species in the areas we visited.
Pretty unusual for us to see in places we check in New Mexico (I’d seen my first one ever just last month in Angel Fire!), we saw quite a few of the outstanding Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.
Quite a few Hoary Commas were also seen, along with two other Comma species.
Another new one for me, the Pale Swallowtail. Of the 8 Papilionidae species possible on the trip, we were fortunate to see all but one.
Parnassians, included in the Papilionidae family, were quite commonly seen and exciting for me since I’d only seen a single Clodius Parnassian at quite a distance during last year’s California trip. On this trip, we’d get both the Clodius and the Rocky Mountain.
This patient individual posed nicely for me to capture its distinctive marbling.
Other than the Tailed Copper and rarely the Purplish Copper, I haven’t seen many Coppers in New Mexico. Stunning butterflies both from the ventral (side) and dorsal (top) views, our group picked up six of these species on the trip.
I’d hoped to see an Arctic Skipper on this trip and wasn’t disappointed, getting to see them on two different days. The Arctic Skipper is one of the most strikingly patterned of the small skipperlings in the Heteropterinae subfamily.
Nineteen fritillary species were possible on this trip, of which we identified all but three and I got decent pictures of twelve. Often difficult to identify from a picture taken in the field, Jim is quite the student of these guys and helped us immensely in knowing what to look for and how to distinguish the different species. My first guess at the one below was Coronis Fritillary (Speyeria coronis) – Jim can’t tell for sure, but thinks it might be.
This next one, Great Basin Fritillary, was Jim’s ‘favorite bug of the trip.’ Quite variable in appearance and similar to several other common species, it is a great one to add to that list of ‘lifers.’
We saw five species of Checkerspots on the trip, including that Gillett’s at the top of this posting laying those eggs, the high altitude species, Edith’s, another rare high-altitude species, Rockslide, that we took a long hike at Bears Ears Pass to locate, the rather common but striking Variable Checkerspot, and the Northern Checkerspot; this one nectaring on a colorful wildflower.
Finally, here’s one of me taken by my friend, Rebecca. I’m usually so busy taking pictures on these trips, it’s unusual to have any with me in them.
Hope you enjoyed all these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.