Sunday, June 22, 2008
The 7th duskywing
This funereal duskywing (Erynnis funeralis) is in the Hesperiidae family of butterflies, making it a skipper. Skippers of all types tend to fly in very quick spurts making them a bit difficult to photograph; I was happy to get these pictures finally as I've been seeing dark dartings in the corner of my eye for at least a month now. Duskywings (genus Erynnis) all have drabbish brown mottled wings and look very much alike. The funereal's bright white margin on the hind wings helps distinguish it, as well as taking into account its relative abundance within its known range where it was found. Species of Duskywings sport some whimsical common names such as Sleepy, Dreamy, Dingy, Mournful, Mottled and Grizzled, not to mention the ever-colorful Funereal, making them the next-best thing to the 7 dwarfs.
The larvae of E. funeralis feed on legumes; in southern California this is often deerweed, Lotus scoparius, which resembles those scruffy shrubs called brooms that used to be more common in gardens. I wonder if the butterflies use these shrubs (cytisus or genista) for larval food plants in the city. I haven't seen larvae of the species yet; the leguminous plants we grow are acacias, sennas and lately caesalpinia, none of which are listed as larval food plants.
The flower in these photos is Gaillardia aristata "Oranges & Lemons", a very good performer in my garden in a full sunny spot requiring moderate to little water.