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


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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).


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
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*


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


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...


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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

Hope you are able to ID your butterfly.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 8:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
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
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

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

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 2:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

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.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 3:10PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Insect eggs??
Does anyone recognize what these are? Each is on it's...
kaboehm (zone 9a, TX USA)
A romantic moment
Lots of activity in my garden. We released 7 male Monarchs...
jane__ny me ID these guys:-)
Hello! I am currently here in. Tampa, Florida, took...
Forum changes due to Houzz
I'm never happy when somebody buys up a website I use...
KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH
Commercial grown Milkweed
Sponsored Products
Teal Bamboo Trellis Giclee Shade 12x12x8.5 (Spider)
$59.99 | Lamps Plus
Cadence Wool Area Rug
$29.99 | zulily
Home Decorators Accent Rug: Dudley Beige 2' x 3'
$59.00 | Home Depot
RGBWW 5050 ColorPlus LED Strip Light 60/m 12mm wide Foot
Schonbek | Refrax Strip Pendant Light - RE2524
L.A. Skyline Art Print
$23.99 | Dot & Bo
Foscarini | New Buds 3 Suspension Lamp
Fima Frattini by Nameeks S5051L/5 Wall Mount Bathroom Faucet - S5051L/5BR
$638.92 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™