While Monarchs get most of the attention, here's one you may never have heard of: the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui):
Painted Ladies fly in all parts of the US, but at varying times. They migrate in "swarms", but some years there are many, some years not so much. You should Google for "painted lady migration news..." and include your location.) When there is an irruption, there will be hundreds of butterflies all flying fast in the same direction and at just a few feet above the ground. It's quite a sight. They are now being reported flying southeast in California. Will they be flying in your area? Maybe check with an ag council,
Most butterflies (certainly not all) stop to nectar and rest with wings open, but it's interesting to point out that the underwing pattern (wings up, shown in the right-side photo) is where you usually identify the species. There are four species of Vanessa, all pretty, and worth watching for.
In fact yes, they are in Nymphalidae, the brush-foot family. But similarity of pattern is not to indicate that they are closely related. The brush-foot family is large and varied in both size and coloration.
The odd name comes from the fact that two of the six feet are shorter and, well, brush-like. Thought to help in detecting plant types. Butterflies typically need a specific plant family to lay eggs on. They are amazing at sensing chemical composition with a touch of their feet!)
I've transferred all the links to my hubby's desktop. He is thrilled for all the resource's on butterflies, not just the Monarch. We identified the Wandering Skipper that we have in our yard all the time. Then noted that it is abundant here. A man from Big Canyon, homes nearby, took the photo's. They like our back bay of salt grass and residential gardens. How fun is all this.... Thanks so much for this very interesting thread.
You're doing well. Having never heard of the Wandering Skipper, I had to look it up. Maybe this page will be one you've seen: nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/lepidopt/hesper/wanderin.htm It sure has a neat name: Panoquina errans. I can see the errans as meaning wandering, now to work on Panoquina. NOTE: See footnote added: Tip: When talking butterfly, if you can include the scientific name, it helps the next person. I looked up wandering skipper and found a Carson Wandering Skipper; Carson Nevada, and it's noe endangered list! When I added Newport Beach, I got results I wanted. Sure enough, Big Canyon. Makes me wonder if that's a micro habitat? If so, good to know.
Skippers are odd little guys; sort of a stage between butterflies and moths. They are butterflies, but the wings are significantly different, and there are other unusual things about them, Abundant and usually hard to ID, I was happy to stick to leaving them for "later":, like birders leave LBBs for later, botanists leave DYCs for later! [[LBB=little brown bird; DYC=damn yellow composite; if there's an acronym for skippers I have not yet heard it.] Anyway, the good news is that unlike plants, common names for butterflies are pretty much universal. Still, as this example shows, if there is a modified common name ( ie, adding Carson...) it generally means that butterfly is somehow "special".
Butterfly names are interesting in another way: unlike plant names, butterfly names are more from the 18th century, a time when the wealthy gentlemen traveled to discover things, and having Classical educations, Latin and Greek supplied interesting ideas for names. The OxEye butterfly is Cercyonis pegala boopis. I laughed at the "boopis" part and had to ask Art. Turns out it is Bo-opis (long O, hesitate) meaning specifically OX (think bovine) and EYE (think optic) So as you stumble along with those science names, at least you can have a bit of insight. Plant names tell a lot about the plant, butterfly names often take a different path.
"The origin of the Panoquina name: "In any event, the death of Metacomet ended all Native American resistance in southern New England. Another chief who participated in King Philip’s War against the English was Quanopin also known as “Panoquin.” Scudder used this name for Salt Marsh Skipper, Panoquina panoquin (Scudder 1864) although the genus name was not created until 1934."
My attempt at an ID of the top photo is a Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes). Where's another photo that sort of matches the underwing view of yours.
Out of curiosity, do you have citrus trees (grapefruit, specifically) near yor property? If this is in fact a Giant Swallowtail (their tops are way more black), the only place I have "seen" one was in photos a relative sent me from Yuma, AZ. When I worked on an ID, I read that they favor citrus trees, and yes, that was where thje Yuma critter was photographed.Giant Swallowtail range is more in the southwest but does extend to SoCal and comes very close to Riverside! It would not be a surprise to find them flying into SoCal.
Of course I could be way off the mark. Underwing patterns are the Big Tell when working on butterfly ID.
Thanks Steve, I do have a book of SoCal butterflies and I must try and look up to see as well. The one in the photo looks pretty raggedy and was taken in October so was late in the year.
There are loads of citrus trees in the vicinity, most houses have quite a few, I've got about 20, although no grapefruit at the moment, and theres a 200 acre commercial orchard less than a mile away and lots more orchards a little further away. Its actually not optimal for grapefruit here as it doesn't get hot enough. I don't see too many butterflies associated with them though but guess I should check more. I'd guess they would make good sheltering areas as it gets pretty dense in those trees.
I'll try and take some more photos as there are quite a few species in the area.
As regards the painted ladies one year, can't remember when exactly but probably 10-15yrs ago, I went to Anza Borrego state park, largest state park in Calif, in lower desert. It was a huge wildflower year and I walked through part of a wash where there were verbena and other ephemeral flowers everywhere. Flowers to the horizon amazing and I've got some great photos of my shoes totally yellow from pollen. I went back a week later and the whole area was being eaten by painted ladies. The biomass must have been incredible and then for the next couple of months had the irruption. Must have been billions upon billions.
As soon as I posted that question, I realized it was dumb to ask. Riverside? Citrus? Hello!! Fact is I used to live in SoCal, making trips all over and I'm very familiar with whatSoCal used to be. Your story of the Anza-Borrego was fun to read (vicarious visit for me), and I'm glad somebody else has experienced the Painted Lady tidal wave.