Utopia Butterfly List
The Butterflies of Utopia
Utopia area Butterfly list - November 2003 to Nov. 2013
Mitch Heindel's Master List of sightings, photos and NCR's.
Utopia Area is: within 4 air miles of Utopia, Uvalde, Co., TX.
In the "canyonlands" on the southern edge of Edwards Plateau.
Latilong 99 x 29, elevation at town is ca. 1350', hills around
town range to 1550' in most areas of access, higher in places.

The habitat is a mix of hill country and south Texas brush country. It WAS primarily a brush county type mix on the valley floor, with mesquite-hackberry-prickly-pear, some huisache, cedar elm, etc., but most has come under the plow and goat. There are small scattered remnant patches of this though throughout valley floor. Then, there are along any lower spot or draw where water drains, ancient live-oak mottes. The Sabinal River itself is beautifully lined with Bald Cypress. There are occsional areas, mostly in flood zones, with some pecan bottoms, others areas along river are live oak-mottes, and others are a nice riparian corridor with mulberry, willows and (now mostly dying) sycamores . Some places all the various habitats mix together.  Biodiversity is high.

On upland slopes away from the valley floor, most has been goat-grazed so the expected understory is absent in many places, or just coming back from 30-40 years without goats in some cases. It is not normal and natural in most areas, put it that way. In general uplands are live-oak and juniper grasslands, with higher slopes having deciduous Buckley Oaks (aka Spanish Oak). In the last decade, a strange new habitat has appeared, native plant (Texas hill country) butterfly gardens. Even more unusual is a dude often bent over them with reading glasses and camera.

The juniper and mesquite are invasive and un-naturally overabundant in some areas. Due primarily to historical overgrazing and fire supression.
The town and to the south, down-valley, is in Uvalde County, and north of town, up-valley, is Bandera County. This creates a recording nightmare, as everything sort of has to be found twice therefore in the Sabinal Valley, on both sides of an arbitrary meaningless political line at the north end of town. For the stuff I play with, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, etc., most biological record keeping is at the county level, at least, so we are stuck. This is why "biogeographic" areas are the best measure for things biological. The upper Sabinal River drainage would be a good definition of this bio-geographic area.

99% of this list is from less than 10 sq. miles, and probably 98% or more is from one single square mile around Utopia. Year-round observation is a quite different method of gathering data from the traditional netting study techniques away from one's local area when only visited occasionally, even if annually. For instance, checking out a 1000 sq. ft. butterfly garden two or three times a week (at the Utopia Library), all fall, as well as knowing and checking every local lantana patch or puddle spot regularly results in a very different view of what is happening. Johnny's super red lantana is best.   :)

Of course you have to carry a camera or net to prove anything unusual, just in case.   :)
Most of the rarities photos are here:   Rare Butterflies

In less than 3 years I have seen 95 species of butterflies at the Utopia Library Butterfly Garden alone. Update: in the fifth year I finally hit 100 species at the Library Butterfly Garden. The first 90 were faster than the last 10, as it goes. But at least it is established 100 species can occur in a single barely maintained native (Tex. hill country species) garden in town here.
About the list ...
Abbreviations used: photographed = ph.; Bandera Co. = BanCo; Uvalde Co. = UvCo; New County Record (per CB/TLS) = NCR ; v. = voucher specimen retained; hypothetical = sight ID

The list names the family first, then the species in that family follow. For each species, the common name is given first, followed by the binomial, or scientific name. Subspecies are mostly ignored, save a few obvious forms.

THE BUTTERFLIES OF UTOPIA


Swallowtails ~ Papilionidae
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) (ph.)
Polydamus Swallowtail (Battus polydamus) seen July 26, 2013
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) (ph.)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) (ph.)
(+ black form female E. Tiger is regular locally)
Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudatus) (ph.)
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) (ph.)
Ornythion Swallowtail (Papilio ornythion)(ph.UvCo (2nd?))
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) (ph.)
Ruby-spotted Swallowtail (Papilio anchisiades) (ph.UvCo NCR)

9 species of swallowtails ~ (8 ph.) (1 NCR) (+1 form)


Whites, Sulphurs, Yellows, Oranges, etc., ~ Pieridae

Falcate Orangetip (Anthocaris midea) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Checkered White (Pontia protodice)(ph.)
Great Southern White (Ascia monuste) (ph. UvCo, seen BanCo)
Giant White (Ganyra josephina)(ph.- UvCo NCR, seen BanCo)
Mexican Tropical (Florida) White (Appias drusilla) (ph.-2nd UvCo?)
Orange Sulphur (Alfalfa) (Colias eurytheme) (ph.)
Southern Dogface (Zerene (Colias) cesonia) (ph.)
Lyside Sulphur (Kricogonia lyside)(ph.)
White Angled-Sulphur (Anteos clorinde)(ph.UvCo and BanCo)
Yellow Angled-Sulphur (Anteos maerula) (seen only UvCo and BanCo)
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) (ph.)
  (note marcellina (Spotted) form regular)
Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe) (ph.)
Orange-barred Sulphur (Phoebis philea) (UvCo ph.)(seen only in BanCo-NCR)
Little Yellow (Eurema lisa) (ph.)
Mimosa Yellow (Eurema nise) (ph.)
Mexican Yellow (Eurema mexicana) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
(*+ winter form E.mexicana - small and all yellow (ph.-v.)
Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe) (ph.)
Tailed Orange (Eurema proterpia) (ph. both Co.s)
Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) (ph.)

* Hypothetical: Statira Sulphur (Aphrissa statira) seen UvCo Nov'07
* Hypothetical: Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) 2 seen UvCo

19 sps. Pierids: (18 ph.) (5 NCR) (*+ 2 hypothetical)(+2 forms)


Gossamer-wings - Lycaenidae

~ Hairstreaks
Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) (ph.)
White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) (ph.)
Dusky-blue Groundstreak (Calycopis isobeon)(ph.- BanCo NCR)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) (ph.)
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon istapa) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Henric's Elfin (Callophrys henrici) (ph.)
Southern (Oak) Hairstreak (Satyrium favonius)(ph.)
"Olive" Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)(ph.)
*"Siva" Juniper Hairstreak (Cg.siva)(no vent. basal spots) seen
*"Nelson's" Hairstreak (same as above - C.g.) (ph.)
Xami Hairstreak (Callophrys xami) (UvCo photos lost on floppy meltdown!)
Clytie Ministreak (Ministrymon clytie) seen well June 24, 2009

*Hypothetical: Lacey's Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon alea) 2 sightings
*Hypothetical: Gray Ministreak (Ministrymon azia) 2 sightings

10 sps. hairstreaks: (8 ph.) (2NCR) (+2*forms)(*+2 hypotheticals)

~ Blues
Reakirt's Blue (Hemiargus isola) (ph.)
Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Marine Blue (Leptotes marina) (ph.)
Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius) (ph.)
Eastern ("Texas"/texana) Tailed-Blue - (Cupido (Everes) amyntula texana) (ph.)
Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis)(ph.UvCo)

*Hypothetical: Cyna Blue (Zizula cyna) 2 sightings
I got 6 kinds of the blues: (all ph.) (1NCR) (*+1 Hypothetical)

15 species Lycaenids: (14 ph.) (3 NCR) (*+4 hypos) (2 forms)


Metalmarks ~ Riodinidae

Rawson's Metalmark (Calephelis rawsoni) (ph.-v.UvCo)
Rounded Metalmark (Calephelis perditalis) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Fatal Metalmark (Calephelis nemesis) (ph.)
3 species Metalmarks (all ph.) (1 NCR)


Brushfoots ~ Nymphalidae

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta) (ph.)(+few v. on grill)
Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)(ph.UvCo)(BanCo NCR)
Julia Longwing (Dryas julia) (ph. UvCo)
Mexican Silverspot (Dione moneta) seen 3 in UvCo
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) (ph.)
Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)(ph.)
Mexican Fritillary (Euptoieta hegesia) (ph.UvCo)
Theona Checkerspot (Chlosyne theona) (ph.)
Bordered Patch (Chlosyne lacinia) (ph.) -
   *C.l.crocale black form (ph.)
Crimson Patch (Chlosyne janais)(ph.)
Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis)(ph.)
Elada Checkerspot (Texola elada) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Vesta Crescent (Phyciodes vesta) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Texan Crescent (Phyciodes texana) (ph.)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) (ph.)
Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon) (ph.)(+rare no orange winter form)
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) (ph.)
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) (ph.)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) (ph.)
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) (ph.)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) (ph.)
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) (ph.)
Tropical (Dark) Buckeye (Junonia evarate) (ph.UvCo)
 *(some intermediate, indeterminate Buckeye occur)
Common Mestra (Mestra amymone) (ph.)
Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)(ph.UvCo)(seen in BanCo)
Red Rim (Biblis hyperia) seen few (ph.UvCo - seen BanCo-NCR)
Ruddy Daggerwing (Marpesia petreus) (ph. BanCo-NCR, and, ph. 2nd UvCo - both fall '08)
Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron)**by others ph. at Lost Maples
Dingy Purplewing (Eunica monima) seen BFG July 1, 2009
Blue-eyed Sailor (Dynamine dyonis) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Arizona Sister (Adelpha eulalia) (ph.)
Spot-celled Sister (Adelpha basiloides)(ph.- UvCo NCR)
Band-celled Sister (Adelpha fessonia) 2 UvCo sightings
Question Mark (Polygonus interrogationis) (ph.)
Eastern Comma (Polygonus comma) seen once in UvCo.
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) (ph.BanCo-seenUvCo)
Goatweed Leafwing (Anaea andria) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
Tropical Leafwing (Anaea aidea) (ph. UvCo)(seen BanCo-NCR)
White Peacock (Anartia jatrophe)(ph.)
Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) (ph.)
Empress Leilia (Asterocampa leilia) (ph.)
Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) (ph.)
Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) (ph.)
Red Satyr (Megisto rubricata) (ph.)
Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela) (ph.) -
*"Viola's" form Little Wood Satyr (M.c.)(ph.)
Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius)(ph.- BanCo NCR)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) (ph.)
Queen (Danaus gilippus) (ph.)
Soldier (Danaus eresimus)(ph.- BanCo NCR)

*Hypothetical: West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella) seen 3 UvCo

49 species brushfoots (44 ph.) (12 NCR) (*+3 forms)
(*1 hypothetical) (+1 by others at Lost Maples)


Skippers ~ Hesperidae

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)- seen many no ph.
Gold-spotted Aguna - (Aguna asander)(ph.UvCo)
Tailed Aguna (Aguna metophis) - (UvCo sighting only due to camera malfunction!)
Brown Longtail (Urbanus procne) (seen UvCo NCR)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)(ph.- BanCo NCR)
Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes) (ph. - BanCo NCR)
Zilpa Longtail (Chioides zilpa) (ph.- BanCo NCR)
White-striped Longtail (Chioides catillus)(ph.- BanCo NCR)
Two-barred Flasher (Astraptes fulgerator) (ph.UvCo)
Sickle-winged Skipper (Eantis tamenund) (ph.& v.- BanCo NCR)
Common Streaky Skipper (Celotes nessus)(ph.- BanCo NCR)
  (C.Durden had Celotes prior - but wasn't on BanCo list)
White-patched Skipper (Chiomara georgina)(ph.UvCo)
Mazans Scallopwing (Staphylus mazans) (ph.)
Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis) (ph.)
Desert Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus philetas) (ph.)
Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus oileus) (ph.)
Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)(ph.)
Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus)(ph.)
Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) (ph.)
Coyote Cloudywing (Achalarus toxeus) (ph./v.UvCo)
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius) (ph.)
Southern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia otho) (ph.)
Sachem (Field Skipper) (Atalopedes compestris)(ph.)
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) (ph.)
Whirlabout (Polites vibex) (ph.)
False Duskywing (Gesta invisus) (ph./v.BanCo)
Funereal Duskywing (Erynnis funeralis)(ph.)
Juvenal's Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)(ph.)
Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius) (ph.)
Mournful Duskywing (Erynnis tristis) (ph.)
Meridian Duskywing (Erynnis meridianus) seen only
Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor) (ph./v.- UvCo NCR)
Tropical Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha arene) 2 seen Utopia Aug 30, 2009
Orange Skipperling (Copaeodes aurantiaca)(ph.)
Southern Skipperling (Copaeodes minima)(ph.)
Green Skipper (Hesperia viridis)(ph.)
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris) (ph.)
Julia's Skipper (Nastra julia)(ph.)
Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola) (ph. BanCo - NCR)
Purple-washed Skipper (Panoquina lucas) (ph. UvCo NCR)
Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius)(ph.UvCo) (seen in BanCo)
Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes aenus) seen BanCo '04
Celia's Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes celia) (ph.)
Dotted Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes eos) (ph.)
Nysa Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nysa) (ph.)
Texas Powdered Skipper (Systasea pulverulenta) - (ph. BanCo NCR)
Laviana White-Skipper (Heliopetes laviana) (ph.UvCo -seen in BanCo)

*Hypothetical: Turk's-Cap White-Skipper (Heliopetes macaira) sightings
*Hypothetical: Violet-clouded Skipper (Lerodea arabus) two seen UvCo, Nov.

47 species skippers (41 ph.) (10 NCR)(*+2 hypothetical)

(In addition a number of never IDd skippers have been seen,
and others certainly overlooked due to ignorance too.)
Current local Utopia area total list as of October 2012 is 140 species of which 126 species are photographed. Only one sps. on list is a photo by another, and outside the 4 mile range, an accidental photo'd as a what purdy butterfly izzat pic at Lost Maples, the Many-banded Daggerwing.

The 140 does NOT count the 9 hypothetical records (or 8 forms). With those the total would be 149 species (!) and we're right on the cusp of detecting 150 species in a 4 mile circle around Utopia.

Update 2013: one new species as of Oct. so far this year, Polydamus Swallowtail, = 141 sps. locally. Spoke too soon, Purple-washed Skipper photographed Nov. 19, for a UvCo NCR. Make it 142 now.


Discussion
137 species of Butterflies have been/were seen within 4 miles of Utopia in 5 1/2 years, from Nov. '03 to June '09, by one far less than expert. The 8 "hypothetical" sightings are not counted in the 137 total. Nor are the 6 "forms" counted in the total. So in theory we could have 150 species of butterflies right in the area locally. Certainly if there were 10-20 years of expert coverage, that number would be documented in the immediate vicinity of Utopia. Update Fall 2012, 140 species known locally now, 126+ photo'd.

I have included about a dozen species on the main list for which I have no photo. That is, sight records. Silver-spotted Skipper is seen annually, but it's very difficult to get a picture of. If it is a species considered a "tough ID," or a new county record, it is usually relagated to hypothetical status, and not added into the total. Whereas, if it is a readily identifiable species, most seen more than once, some regularly, and are not likely to be confused with anything, it is included on the main list based on my sight identifications, for completeness and accuracy.

We know they are occurring whether or not we can get net or lens on them. So they should be on the list of things that occur here. This I consider more important to our understanding of what is here, or not, than whether or not I can prove it to a naysayer that wants to question it, that didn't spend a decade here making tens of thousands of butterfly ID's.

Identifiable photo or voucher was obtained of 126 of the 137 species listed (again, without the Hypos or forms), irrefutable evidence rate is 90%. There are about 30 accepted NCR's (per The Lepidoptera Society Seasonal Summary, Charles Bordelon) represented (ca. 25 in underworked Bandera, 5 in heavily worked Uvalde) amongst the records. Most of the documentation photos can be viewed on the website either on the butterfly photo pages, butterfly news, or bird news pages, or by request.

Surely many additional rare or vagrant species move through undetected due to lack of knowledgeable observer coverage. Plus the fact that even living here, coverage is a couple or few hours, two or 3 days tops per week, besides the yard. Which has provided a number of the great records, incredible since it is random, and natural, looking just like the million acres around it, and so with no good reason to attract Giant White and Spot-celled Sister for instance. How many must there really be?

The Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron) photographed because it was neat by a nature watcher nearby at Lost Maples, is an example of what might float through, for the most part un-noticed. Amazingly, I photo'd a Ruddy Daggerwing (M. petreus) there Aug. 08!

Perhaps most significant, or at least most interesting and exciting to me is the number of species occurring that are generally considered "Lower" Rio Grande Valley specialties in the U.S., many of which are likely Mexican in origin.

Examples are Ruby-spotted Swallowtail, Ornythion Swallowtail, Yellow, and White, Angled-Sulphurs, Florida, Giant, & Great Southern, Whites, Zebra, and Julia Longwings, Band-, and Spot-celled Sisters, Red Rim, Dingy Purplewing, Blue-eyed Sailor, Malachite, Gold-spotted Aguna, Tailed Aguna, Two-barred Flasher, Least, Tropical Least, Sickle-winged and White-patched Skipper, Zilpa and Brown Longtail, and the two species of Daggerwings. Mexico is about 100 miles SW as the butterfly flies, or is blown from. Incidently, 21 of these 26 "best butterflies" were photo'd.

Zonal flow is from the south, and often at 20 MPH and more which could bring a butterfly from the LRGV here in a couple or few days. Most of these vagrants are beat up, worn, torn and frayed, tattered, much worse for the wear and tear. A very few are in good condition.

The boom and bust hydrological cycles wreak havoc with local populations, which fluctuate wildly and are much better in wet periods, it can be dismal in droughts. Things I though were resident are absent now. Butterflies much more than birds for instance, fluctuate in populations and even presence far more drastically.

Many species are cyclicly invasionary, e.g. Zebra Longwing twice in 03-11 period was common locally, then a couple years, a few were about, and half the years none were seen.  This is typical of many species here. Crimson Patch was nearly common in wet period, but absent last 3 years as of 2011 during drought. One year of 8 Red Rim was everywhere, otherwise none. The year we found the Ruddy Daggerwing at Lost Maples, another was at the Library garden a week later, and the week prior one was in Concan. Common Mestra is another irregular one, thousands in 2008 or 09, absent 10-11, and hundreds in '12. The irruptive immigrants often comes in waves.

With the acute drought, for the first time in 8 years, in 2011 I did not see a single Arizona Sister locally! They were common the prior 7 years! Update: NO Sister again in 2012! Two years now it is absent where was common, remarkable.  Just the last two years of study would say they aren't here, a very incomplete picture.

It probably takes a decade of recording to even get one chance at most of the stuff hitting their perfect conditions boom cycle and revealing the complete story of their status and abundance. If one was only here the four years there were no Zebras (or Mestras) one could surmise they didn't occur here. Yet they can be common. That is with the non-resident irruptives, then it is another story for the apparent residents, a number of which have disappeared in the drought.

I have had a tenative list with status of each species included, but it changes so much for so many, I have not put it up, despite continued revisions. Every year or two I have to make changes on half.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Acknowledgements
A very big grateful THANK YOU to Charles Bordelon and Mike Overton, for being so willing to share their knowledge and expert experience, review photographs, and generally help an amateur get it, right. Their expertise and kind help made this list a whole lot better.

Utopia ~ June 2005, Oct. 2012


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