Thursday, June 25, 2009

Butterfly Explosion on June 18th in Yosemite!


These are California Tortoiseshells (Nymphalis californica) a butterfly I'd never seen until the evening before. The next day we revisited the South Tuolumne River then the Middle Tuolumne River. We found puddle parties of 300-600 butterflies about every 30-50 along the river. We estimated we saw between 5000- 10,000 California Tortoiseshells on June the 18th! In the 12 years of butterfly watching I have never seen so many butterflies in a single day. To walk along the river with swarms of 300-600 butterflies flying around you was pretty amazing!

California Tortoiseshells can be rare some years as they explode some years in certain spots we were lucky to be at the right spot. The host plant is Ceanothus which we saw everywhere in bloom, likely three species of it during our trip. I never did find any sign of caterpillars.


Just a small number of butterflies in a puddle party. Males are usually the ones in the puddles. These butterflies do not visit flowers, as we never saw a single one on flowers. I revisited the same site two days later and found only about 100 butterflies left, the rest must have moved on.


Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) another new butterfly for me! I've seen the Weidemeyer's Admiral (L. weidemeyerii) before, but not this one. We saw good numbers of them, likely several hundred during our trip in the Yosemite area.

These look a lot like the California Sister, but smaller you see some of them on another post soon.



One of the Mariposa Lilies we found in a meadow along Evergreen Road.

19 comments:

Michelle said...

That's amazing Randy, all those butterflies and such excellent photographs! I've been seeing the Tortoiseshells here, but not in those numbers. That must be thrilling to see. I think the second butterfly is actually a Lorquin's Admiral.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Hi guys! You must be having a blast! I cannot imagine seeing so many butterflies! As always, your photography is wonderful! Thanks for sharing...wish I could see it in person! Jan

Randy Emmitt said...

Michelle,
Thanks for pointing that out I have changed it. I'm pretty wiped out from all the traveling.

Jan,
Wish you could have been there to see the butterflies too!

Just got a photo request from Audubon Magizine, hope they can use one of my photos!

Janet said...

Really nice photos Randy. That Lorquin's Admiral is very interesting looking. Good luck with the Audubon Magazine. They would be lucky to have any of your photos.

Town Mouse said...

How amazing! I do hope they'll hang around, I'm leaving for a 6-day trip to Yosemite on Sunday. Better take my camera!

Kim and Victoria said...

Very pretty!!
Love those mariposa lilies. They grow wild in the mountains around here.

perennialgardener said...

That must of been amazing to see so many butterflies in one day. I've never seen the Tortoiseshell before, thanks for sharing your lovely photos. :)

Ginger said...

That lily looks like some kind of insect itself!
I can't imagine these huge puddle parties you mention, but they must be amazing!!
Great photos as always.

Kim and Victoria said...

No Randy, Kim does not have a twin. Not that we're aware of anyway. ;-)

Barbara E said...

So beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

sweet bay said...

Gorgeous butterflies! The Mariposa Lily is beautiful.

oldcrow61 said...

Thanks for the information on the Damsel. You have some lovely pictures here. That Mariposa Lily is just beautiful.

Warren Baker said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Randy, I'm glad you enjoyed the Butterfly shots. You have some real beauties of your own!

Just Jenn said...

How wonderful! We were on the oregon coast a few years ago in an unusually warm and dry mid-September when a stream of hundreds of thousands of butterflies flew past our rented beach house. It went on for several hours and was amazing to be apart of for so long. I envy you that magical experience of being surrounded by so many wonderful little creatures.

Cheryl said...

Beautiful butterflies and amazing photographs.....some things just make your heart skip a beat......

Warren Baker said...

Absolutely stunning set of pics. I really enjoyed seeing them, well done!

Kanak Hagjer said...

I LOVED going through all the butterfly pictures. Amazing! And the mariposa lily--I love the colours and the patterns!

Thank you for commenting on my dragonfly post. Wish you and Meg a happy 4th!

Di said...

Randy, the butterflies and photos are spectacular! Best wishes with Audubon.

Tatiana said...

Awesome photos... but but but don't you get spiders the size of trucks down there? I swear, the lack of horrifying insects is the only good thing about a cold climate.