Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rabbitbrush...Neighborhood Butterfly Magnet

Over time I've discovered that some of the best wildlife watching may be right out the front door of your home. For sure it helps if one cultivates plants/habitats attractive to wildlife around the home site. Plus, many residential areas/subdivisions may have areas that are dedicated as "parks" in the neighborhood. That's the case where I live. It just so happens the parks (not huge in size...largest about 7 home lots in extant) here have a good native component. To my discovery, the 'beat down' looking shrubs growing in these areas, Rabbitbrush (Ericameria genus) are major butterfly attractants in late summer/early fall. Paul Opler, dean of butterfly watchers, published a paper detailed 33 species of butterfly using Rabbitbrush [Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 49 (1), 1995, 1-5]  Yes, I've been going to a large expanse of Rabbitbrush southeast of Stevensville which has been great for butterflying. However, the wildlfire smoke has been really bad there recently. So, I checked out instead the Rabbitbrush in my neighborhood parks. And I'm not talking about extensive stands, instead scattered specimens far apart that may get to 6 foot in diameter (most much smaller). Had some great action. Found west coast lady, hoary comma, juba skipper, red admiral, and clouded sulphur in an hour. Here's the video followed by photos for your enjoyment:

Clouded Sulphur

Hoary Comma

Juba Skipper

Red  Admiral

West Coast Lady