Sunday, July 7, 2013

Connecting the Wildlife Viewing Dots...What Should Be Obvious

It wasn't until yesterday that I connected the dots in finding Parnassian butterflies thanks to a Northwest Butterflies blog posting on the Gifford Pinchot NF. The author smartly included photos of the habitat visited...and there it was...steep, rocky road cuts. These areas typically are home to stonecrops (the sedum genus or succulent in general) which are the larval host plant for Parnassian butterflies. A mere fifteen minutes from my home is Blue Mountain (Lolo NF), which has windy steep road cuts in places (duh!!!!). So mid-afternoon I went on an adventure of discovery. Sure enough, as I emerged onto a south-facing straightaway I saw three white butterflies soaring Turkey Vulture-like low over the gravel road and vegetation. Quickly parked into the nearest pull-out and chased after the butterflies with camera in-hand. Never did get a "great" photo of the Rocky Mountain Parnassian (Parnassius smintheus), however did manage some diagnostic pics. As a bonus, found and photographed a White Bog Orchid (Platanthera sp.) and a Sinous Snaketail (Ophiogomphus occidentis) along ravine stream. Connect some dots today too :-)
Rocky Mountain Parnassian

Parnassian Habitat

White Bog Orchid

Sinous Snaketail