Something new (for me)

todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)September 29, 2010

Running late for work I spot a very large black butterfly. Never seen this species in my garden before. Larger than a Monarch, solid black with a 1 large white spot on the tip of each wing followed by 3 dark orange spots. It looked as though it was oviposition on the Black Ash trees??? Can't tell it was too high up. Trying to get a picture ***RATS!!!***

Anyone know what it may be? I'm in N. Calif Inland Bay Area

Edna

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runmede(7a Virginia)

There is a drop down list for the counties. Select your county and then look at the Swallowtail list. This will list all the butterfly and moth species ever reported in your county.

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies and Moths of North America -- California Map

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 2:15PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

Thank you Runmede. I also know that site and have looked. I have some really books as well. This species is rare for my location. I've lived here many many years and never have I seen this Lep. I will need to do an extensive search.

The two black ash trees I have are on the hell strip planted by the city. Needless to say they admitted making a mistake as those trees are not native to N. Calif. - both suffer from severe cracking and sunburn the wood. They will most likely need to be removed in the future.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 4:05PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

The only butterfly listed on the host plant data base that uses that tree is the Tiger Swallowtail. They have a dark form.

Here is a link that might be useful: Papilio glaucus - Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 6:24PM
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ladobe

Hi Edna,

Been awhile girl. Glad your "V" trip went well.

All black with a large white spot on the wing tips followed by three dark orange spots... where? Dorsal or ventral markings? Wing shape and features? Anything else that you might have noticed?

You're an artist, paint us a better picture. Not really enough to go on above to even start checking out possibilities.

I don't think there is anything that is endemic to CA that is bigger than a Danaus except the Papilio's, Adelpha's and Saturnids. I suppose a melanistic mutant of one of them is possible. But since you live in the melting pot of the world with lots of lepidopterists in your area, so is escaped or released species from almost any country in the world.

Off the top of my head the only genera that comes to mind are Hypolimnas, or maybe a large female Amauris (both are Danainae).

Larry

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:34PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

Ah, Larry! Glad to hear from you!

I illustrated the best I could what I saw. As I said, it was quite large. The underside, no color, just black from what I was able to observe. Quite unusual sight in my neck of the woods. Probably an escapee from some butterfly exhibit *LOL*

Ed-

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:45PM
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ladobe

Edna,

Because you may have seen an aberration or mutant, colors and there location may not be a given. Might be the right colors, but they can be in the wrong places. IOW the patches can be the wrong color, size and in the wrong location (ie, have changed places) from the typical phenotype of the species. The white patch could have been orange and the orange patches could have been white or a white band for example.

Your picture looks like a Sister that has been blackened with the patches added. What you saw could very well have been a Sister aberrant gone wild if the wing shape is correct. That is probably more likely than a non endemic species.

If I had to pick a none endemic bug I still want to lean towards the Hypolimnas. While very close to the Sisters their forewings do have a slight scallop that your picture does not have. So wing shape may be an important key.

Unfortunately almost all of my books are in storage, so I have to just follow the gut feeling thing. I did find a possible Hypolimnas that it could be an aberrant of if the wing shape is right. It has the right colors in about the places you thought you saw that might mutate into the pattern that you saw in an aberrant of this species.

A Hypolimnas bolina nerina female from Australia...

Larry

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:12AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Hi, Edna! Good to see you back on the forums again. Just had to add that.

Hope you are able to ID your butterfly.

Susan

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:09AM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

Yes, Larry, the wing shape is exactly as you have above. The colors variation is how I have illustrated. I played around in photoshop. The picture I used was from a Adelpha californica.

Hi Susan!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:57PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

I will try and get a photo this weekend if it comes around again.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:58PM
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ladobe

Edna,
Good job in photoshop as it does "paint the picture". If not an aberratnt Sister, I still lean towards the Hypolimnas or another closely related Danaid genera to them. Without my books it's all just a guess though, and even with them I might be able to come up with something else. There well could be other species of those genera that have the colors of markings that you saw though.
It's not likely that you'll see it again, but the first sighting would have been a great experience.
L.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 3:10PM
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