Deschutes River butterflies

Marvin and I were out sauntering 15 April and stopped to check out the butterflies in Jones Canyon which is tributary to the Deschutes River Canyon on the western edge of Sherman County, Oregon. Normally a small creek flows across the gravel road and seems to be a good spot to find butterflies “puddling”.

We weren’t disappointed. We saw a half dozen comprising two species but we expected a lot more from past experiences at this time of year. It was significant that the creek was almost dry… well, described as damp at best without too much exaggeration.

The lack of moisture provides alarming prospects given this time of year with the snow melt from winter and the spring rains recently past. It appears we will have another very dry summer.

The photo is of a Northern Checkerspot (Chlosyne palla), a small butterfly (easily covered with a 50 cent coin) and common in these parts. They are a challenge to photograph because they seem to alarm easily. The other species was Acmon Blue (Plebejus acmon). Ours were easily identified as males (blue top wing rather than brown as in the females). The Checkerspots were probably males also since it is reported that the males puddle and the females do not.

Chlosyne palla Northern Checkerspot Jones Canyon, Deschutes River, Sherman County, OR
Chlosyne palla Northern Checkerspot Jones Canyon, Deschutes River, Sherman County, OR

There is some dispute over the name of this butterfly so let me provide a disclaimer. I am not an expert on the subject of butterflies so I rely on research done by experts. Robert Pyle’s book “The Butterflies of Cascadia” is a frequent resource.  Dana Ross has suggested that the butterfly in question is now called “Chlosyne acastus” (Sagebrush Checkerspot). He does so by providing ample evidence for the name change. You, gentle reader, might be happy with calling it a Checkerspot or maybe just “Butterfly.”  I intend to study a bit more and be less inclined to jump to a conclusion.



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