March 20, 2021

Calephelis Metalmark ID Notes for California (Fatal & Wright’s)

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Differences between Wright’s (C. wrighti) and Fatal (C. nemesis ssp. dammersi) in California

1] Location/Habitat: Fatal- Found in southeastern California mainly in riparian areas along the coast generally below 800’ elevation. Butterfly’s range closely follows the range of its host plants Brittlebush (Encelia californica) and Baccharis glutinosa. Wright’s- Found in southeastern California mainly in desert canyons and gullies generally above 800’ elevation. Butterfly’s range closely follows the range of its host plant, Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea).

2] Median band darkness: Fatal- Light to dark. Wright’s- None.

3] Upper-wing color: Fatal- Brownish, orangish brown, or/& reddish brown. Colors are often mixed & can vary from light to dark. Upper-wing color is never a pure uniform orange. Wright's- Orange to reddish brown. Upper-wing color is almost always uniform. A few Wright’s possess a dark shading on the leading edge of the forewing and/or the inner part of their wings adjacent to the body. This shading can create a somewhat bi-color look.

4] Black Post-Median band line pattern on Forewing: Fatal- Bar 1 & 2 about even with each other and Bar 3 is offset significantly higher above them. Wright’s- Most the time (75% +/-) Bar 1 and 3 are roughly even with each other and Bar 2 is offset significantly below them. Occasionally (25% +/-) Bar 1 to 3 have a pattern similar to Fatal or possess a seemingly random pattern (See also the below Bar Alignment Note)

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Miscellaneous & Reference Info.

Bar Alignment Note: To interpret the bar alignment pattern on an extended upper forewing, an imaginary line formed by connecting its first 3 black submarginal dots on its forewing should be held approximately in a horizontal position to the identifier. Bars will often have an irregular shape (e.g. a slanted line or two joined slanted lines). Height for these bars should be taken at the center of the cell they are within. The black submarginal dots located above bars can be used as reference as they are situated at cell center. Bar alignment pattern is usually clearer on the closed underwing.

Reliability of ID Notes: Information in the guidebooks for identifying Calephelis in the southwestern United States I have often found confusing and occasionally inaccurate. This arises in part from the three subspecies of Fatal in the United States (ssp. australis in Texas, ssp. nemesis in Arizona, & ssp. dammersi in California) generally being treated as having identical features when in fact differences exist.

In deriving the above notes, data from Butterflies of America was first analyzed for unique species traits. Identifications from this source are largely made by academic professionals who may perform genitalia or DNA analysis. Interesting traits from it were then tested on other data such as iNaturalist to see if they held. If they did not hold, an attempt was made to find out why (e.g. misidentification, variability, etc.). Wing shape, white fringe-marks, and submarginal spot size on hindwing were not found very helpful. The above ID notes were found to be reasonably accurate, especially, when one is able to get confirmation with at least two of a species’ special features. I have additional journal posts in iNaturalist on identifying Calephelis in Texas and Arizona. Comments and corrections are welcomed.

Main Reference Sources:
"A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America" (2017) by Glassberg
https://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/L/t/Calephelis_nemesis_dammersi_a.htm
https://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/L/t/Calephelis_wrighti_a.htm
Personal observations & readings from BugGuide, iNaturalist, etc.

Posted on March 20, 2021 04:04 PM by sfrue sfrue | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 27, 2020

Calephelis Metalmark ID Notes for Arizona (Fatal, Arizona, & Wright’s)

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Differences between Arizona (C. arizonensis) and Fatal (C. nemesis ssp. nemesis) in Arizona

1] Location/Habitat: Fatal- Found at various elevations & terrains throughout much of AZ. Arizona- Usually found in pine/oak canyons with intermittent streams south of Tucson at or above 3,800’ elevation. Its range closely follows the range of its main host plant, Lemmon’s Beggarticks.

2] Black Post-Median band line pattern on Forewing: Fatal- Bar 3 usually significantly higher than Bar 1. Arizona- Bar 3 about 75% of time roughly even with Bar 1 and 25% of time significantly higher. (See also the below Bar Alignment Note)

3] Median band darkness: Fatal- Usually light to dark & typically present in both its forewing & hindwing. Some in their summer form, however, have a light to medium orangish upper-wing coloration and lack darkening in their median band. Arizona- None to light & usually has no median band darkening on its hindwing. (See the below “Median Band Darkness Note” for additional discussion)

4] White fringe-marks on Forewing: Fresh Fatal- Three prominent marks (Each end & the middle), Fresh Arizona- Usually 4 to 6 with middle marks often weak & small. Some, however, have only 3 marks similar to that of a Fatal.

5] Upper-wing color: Fatal- Usually brownish, orangish brown, or orangish. Arizona- Usually reddish brown or reddish orange. Color mixes & hue overlap, however, occur between the two species. Feature helpful mainly on specimens possessing an obvious reddish or pure orangish hue. Both species can have pale areas in their PM band (area between silver & black lines) in their FW & HW that can give them a non-uniform coloration look. These whitish patches occur predominantly in their winter form (Jan. to June). Upper-wing coloration typically should be given only minor weight.

6] Size & Behavior: Arizona is slightly larger than Fatal. This is often apparent when both are in the same area or through experience. Arizona males are also much more territorial than Fatal males. They will aggressively patrol & chase other butterflies, even other species, away from their territory.

7] Silver Post-Median band line pattern on Forewing: Fatal- Bar 2 usually offset below Bar 1, but occasionally is even with it. Arizona- Bar 2 always offset below Bar 1. (Subspecies Note: In Texas & parts of New Mexico, Fatal subsp. australis is present. Its Silver Bar 1 & 2, unlike Fatal subsp. nemesis that is in Arizona, are always approximately even.)
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Wright’s Metalmark (C. wrighti) is very rare in Arizona. The species is found primarily in southern California and the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. A few have been reported, however, in western Arizona along its border (Colorado River) with California and Nevada. An isolated and small population has been documented also in the mountains about 20 miles northeast of Phoenix in the Rackensack Canyon & Log Corral Canyon area. I am not aware of any other locations in Arizona it has been found. Wright’s Metalmark looks very similar to Arizona Metalmark. The two species do not appear to overlap in location. Wright’s differs slightly from Arizona Metalmark in never having a darkened median band and a fresh specimen generally having three large and prominent white fringe-marks (each end & middle) on its forewing.

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Miscellaneous & Reference Info.

Bar Alignment Note: To interpret the bar alignment pattern on an extended upper forewing, an imaginary line formed by connecting its first 3 black submarginal dots on its forewing should be held approximately in a horizontal position to the identifier. Bars will often have an irregular shape (e.g. a slanted line or two joined slanted lines). Height for these bars should be taken at the center of the cell they are within. The black submarginal dots located above the bars can be used as reference as they are situated at cell center. Bar alignment pattern is usually clearer on a closed underwing.

Median Band Darkness Note: Arizona often has a “medium to darkish” chestnut to brownish upper-wing ground coloration with little or no darkening in the hindwing’s median band. Fatals, however, that have this same “medium to darkish” coloration almost always have significant median band darkening in both the forewing and hindwing. Orangish Fatals of a “light to medium” coloration with little or no median band darkening occur typically only from Spring to Fall (May-Dec.). They can look very similar to some Arizona, but often can be separated by elevation/habitat, median band pattern, size, etc. Winter-form Fatals (January-April) almost always have a darken median band that contrasts fairly sharply with a lighter base wing coloration. Both species in their winter form can have contrasting whitish patches on the outer leading edge of their forewing and hindwing that can give them a bicolor look.

Host Plant Notes: Fatal- Virgin's Bower (Clematis drummondii & ligusticifolia) & various Baccharis (e.g. Baccharis salicfolia & salicina). Arizona- Lemmon's Beggarticks (Bidens lemmonii) It is found on rocky slopes often near seeps from 4,200’ to 7,500’. Wright’s- Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea).

Reliability of ID Notes: Information in the guidebooks for identifying Calephelis present in the southwestern United States I have often found confusing and occasionally inaccurate. This arises in part from the three subspecies of Fatal in the United States (ssp. australis in Texas, ssp. nemesis in Arizona, & ssp. dammersi in California) generally being treated as having identical features when in fact differences exist.

In deriving the above notes, data from Butterflies of America was first analyzed for unique species traits. Identifications from this source are largely made by academic professionals who may perform genitalia or DNA analysis. Interesting traits from it were then tested on other data such as iNaturalist to see if they held. If they did not hold, an attempt was made to find out why (e.g. misidentification, variability, etc.). Wing shape, white fringe-marks on hindwing, and submarginal spot size on hindwing were not found very helpful. The above ID notes I found reasonably accurate, especially, when one is able to get confirmation with at least two of a species’ special features. Comments and corrections are welcomed. I also have journal posts in iNaturalist on identifying Calephelis in Texas and California.
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Main Reference Sources:
"A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America" (2017) by Glassberg
https://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/L/t/Calephelis_n_nemesis_a.htm
https://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/L/t/Calephelis_arizonensis_a.htm
https://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/L/t/Calephelis_wrighti_a.htm
https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.118731/Calephelis_arizonensis
https://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=1332&clid=3130
Personal observations & readings from BugGuide, iNaturalist, etc.

Posted on December 27, 2020 06:16 PM by sfrue sfrue | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 13, 2020

Calephelis Metalmark ID Notes For Texas (Fatal, Rounded, Rawson's & Little)

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Fatal Metalmark (ssp. australis) Notes: Silver Bar 1 & 2 in postmedian band on forewing are evenly aligned (e.g. single-looped) & Bar 3 & 4 are aligned about evenly with them or slightly above (e.g. not bulging). Black Bar 1 to 4 in postmedian band on forewing follow a similar pattern except Bar 3 is offset significantly higher above them. Postmedian band of hindwing (area between silver & black lines) is open and generally pale. A fresh Fatal usually has 3 prominent white fringe-marks on its FW (Each end & the middle) and occasionally 2 to 4 less distinct white fringe-marks on its HW. [Rounded- often lacks prominent white fringe-marks, but can have 2 on its FW (Each end) & in rarer cases additional ones on FW & HW; Rawson's- Its FW usually has 2 semi-prominent white fringe-marks (Each end) & often 1 or more smaller white fringe-marks in the middle. Each HW often has 3 to 4 small white fringe-marks]. See Miscellaneous Section and Foot Note (1) for additional information.

Rounded Metalmark Notes: Silver Bar 1 and 3 in postmedian band on forewing are roughly evenly aligned & Bar 2 is offset below them (e.g. double-looped & bulging). Black Bar 1 to 3 in postmedian band on forewing usually roughly replicates the pattern of the silver bars or occasionally forms a step-like pattern with an upward slant. Black Bar 3, consequently, in postmedian band is usually even or offset higher to Bar 1 (In Fatal Bar 3 is offset significantly higher than Bar 1. In Rawson's Bar 3 is typically about even to Bar 1). Postmedian band of hindwing (area between silver & black lines) generally, but not always, has a narrowish section near abdomen. Fresh individuals often lack prominent white fringe-marks, but occasionally do have one on the front end or both ends of FW. In rarer instances they can also have a weak middle white fringe-mark on FW and additional white fringe-marks on HW. See also the below note on range differences between Rawson’s and Rounded.

Rawson's Metalmark Notes: Silver Bar 1 and 3 in postmedian band on forewing are roughly evenly aligned & Bar 2 is slightly offset below them (e.g. mildly double-looped). Black Bar 1 to 3 in postmedian band on forewing roughly replicate the pattern of the silver bars. Black Bar 3 in postmedian band is about 80% of time roughly even to Bar 1 and 20% of time significantly higher. (In Rounded Bar 3 is even or higher to Bar 1. In Fatal Bar 3 is always offset significantly higher than Bar 1). Postmedian band of hindwing usually fairly open without a narrowish section near abdomen that Rounded often possesses. A fresh Rawson's usually has 2 semi-prominent white fringe-marks on forewing (Each end) & frequently, but not always, 1 or more smaller white fringe-marks in the middle. Each HW often has 3 to 4 small white check-marks. See also the below “Range Note” for Rawson’s and Rounded.

Little Metalmark (C. virginiensis) is very rare in Texas. It is found primarily outside of Texas in the southeastern coastal states (Louisiana to North Carolina). A few have been reported, however, within Texas in the Big Thicket Preserve area northeast of Houston. No other species of metalmark falls within its range. Little Metalmark looks somewhat similar to the three other Calephelis species in Texas, but differs in never having a darkened median band or white fringe-marks on its wings. It likes open pine woods and wet prairies. Host plants are Yellow Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) and Vanilla Leaf (Trilisa odoratissima).

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Miscellaneous & Foot Notes

Range Note: Differences between Rounded and Rawson's are minimal. Best way most of the time to differentiate is probably by using their range maps. They overlap only in Central Texas (Austin/San Antonio). Rawson’s is found mainly 1) on the Edwards Plateau in rocky and riparian canyons and 2) in West Texas within a few canyons normally above 4,500’ (e.g. Big Bend N.P. & Davis Mtns). Rounded is found generally in more open and level terrain from Austin southward (excluding hill country) downward to the coast and South Texas. Fatal coexists in both their ranges.

Bar Alignment Note: To interpret the bar alignment pattern on an extended upper forewing, an imaginary line formed by connecting its first 3 black submarginal dots on its forewing should be held approximately in a horizontal position to the identifier. Bars will often have an irregular shape (e.g. a slanted line or two joined slanted lines). Height for these bars should be taken at the center of the cell they are within. The black submarginal dots located above bars can be used as reference as they are situated at cell center. Bar alignment pattern is usually clearer on a closed underwing.

Host Plant Notes: Fatal- Texas Virgin's Bower (aka Old Man's Beard, Clematis drummondii) & Willow Baccharis (Baccharis salicina). Rounded- Siam Weed (Chromolaena odorata), Pink Thoroughwort (Fleischmannia incarnata) & probably other mistflowers (e.g. Conoclinium betonicifolium, & Eupatorium serotinum). Rawson's- Shrubby Boneset (Ageratina havanensis) & probably Palmleaf Thoroughwort (Conoclinium dissectum).

Reliability of ID Notes: Information in the guidebooks for identifying Calephelis present in the southwestern United States I have often found confusing and occasionally inaccurate. This arises in part from the three subspecies of Fatal in the United States (ssp. australis in Texas, ssp. nemesis in Arizona, & ssp. dammersi in California) generally being treated as having identical features when in fact differences exist.

In deriving the above notes, data from Butterflies of America was first analyzed for unique species traits. Identifications from this source are largely made by academic professionals who often perform genitalia or DNA analysis. Interesting traits from it were then tested on other data such as iNaturalist to see if they held. If they did not hold, an attempt was made to find out why (e.g. misidentification, variability, etc.). Wing color, median band darkness, wing shape, & submarginal spot size on hindwing I examined, but did not find very helpful. I tested my ID notes on over 1,000 photographed specimens. They appear to be reasonably accurate, especially, when one is able to get confirmation with at least two of a species’ special features. Comments and corrections are welcomed. I also have journal posts in iNaturalist on identifying Calephelis in Arizona and California.

Main Reference Sources
"A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America" (2017) by Glassberg
http://butterfliesofamerica.com/t/Calephelis_nemesis_australis_a.htm
http://butterfliesofamerica.com/t/Calephelis_p_perditalis_a.htm
http://butterfliesofamerica.com/t/Calephelis_rawsoni_a.htm
https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/05/McGuire-AME32small.pdf
Personal observations and photos & readings from BugGuide, iNaturalist, etc.

Foot Notes
(1) Many Fatals in Arizona and California have their silver and/or black bar pattern in their PM band on FW double-looped (Bar 2 lower than Bar 1 & 3). I have found no evidence this form is present in Texas. A Fatal of any of the three subspecies likely always has Black Bar 3 elevated over Black Bar 1 in its PM band on FW.

(2) Calephelis is a Greek word meaning “the beautiful deceiver”. This name may have been given because the butterfly was judged beautiful, but classification to a species level problematic due to the various species close similarity.

Posted on February 13, 2020 12:38 PM by sfrue sfrue | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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