Monday, October 17, 2011

California Sister

Last weekend Kathy and I spent a day hiking (and biking) around Yosemite Valley. It was a great time to visit the park. The heavy traffic of the summer months was gone, and although there were still many visitors, it wasn't crowded. I don't normally go out of my way to visit national parks because it isn't possible to collect insects without a permit (and permits are usually not worth the trouble getting). But Yosemite Valley can't be avoided indefinitely - especially if you live only a couple of hours away.

This California sister (Adelpha californica) flew by right as we were leaving the Yosemite Visitor's Center. It was circling around the entranceway and I waited for it to land so I could take a picture. Unfortunately, people kept disturbing it each time it landed. I was a little disappointed by how many people didn't even notice it - such a striking insect, and so close. Finally, however, it landed on a manzanita bush nearby and then proceeded to pose for me while I carefully approached it. It is a really beautiful insect. It gets its name for the black and white pattern that is reminiscent of a nun's habit and can be distinguished from other similarly-colored butterflies by the orange/red spots being separated from the wing margin. It feeds on oaks.

The valley itself was cool most of the day with occasional clouds. It had rained earlier in the week and there was a dusting of snow on top of Half Dome. The leaves will be turning soon, I expect. It was hard to leave such a spot - claimed by many to be the most beautiful place on earth.


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