Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pine White Butterfly - Current Wildlife Spectacle

There seems to be a boom right now in the Pine White (Neophasia menapia) Bitterroot Valley population. I got a second hand report of clouds of white butterflies floating about the crown of Ponderosa Pine at the Bass Creek NRA campground. I saw many on a weekend hike at Blodgett Canyon Overlook. According to Pyle (2002), this species of White (Pieridae family) is unusual for its preference of conifer as larval host and the population booms (outside of this, common most years).

Who hasn't watched the nature specials on television highlighting the wildebeest migration in Africa. Or read of the extinct Passenger Pigeon migration numbers. Though this event is not on equal footing, it is surreal, poetic and memorable. We wildlife watchers wish to be there for these displays of life. They are special to see and be part of. Check your flower garden, maybe your plantings have contributed to an increased number of locally common butterfly...that is just as exciting!

Below is a photo from August 2011 at Bass Creek NRA illustrating the incredible spectacle of white butterflies there that year:

Below are close-ups of a female (creamy with reddish coloring on trailing wing edges) and a male (white with thin black lines):
Female Pine White

Male Pine White