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Butterflies of North America -- Apodemia virgulti

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Behr's Metalmark (Apodemia virgulti)
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Behr's Metalmark (Apodemia virgulti Behr)

Wing span: 3/4 - 15/16 inch (19 - 24 cm).

Identification: Upperside red-brown to black, checkered with black and white spots. Brick-red patch on forewing [absent or nearly so in subspecies dialeucoides. Hindwing often has brick-red patch on hindwing. Underside gray with white spots; forewing with brick-red patch.

Life history: Males perch in hillside hollows to watch for females. Eggs are laid in groups of 2-4 on lower leaves of host plant, or singly on other parts of plant. Caterpillars rest during the day in shelters of leaves tied together with silk, emerging at night to feed. Young caterpillars feed on leaves, older caterpillars eat leaves and stems. Young caterpillars hibernate inside plant parts such as dried flower heads of Eriogonum fasciculatum.

Flight: March - Sept. (1-2 flights), all year in coastal San Diego County, Calif.

Caterpillar hosts: Most often Fasciculate Buckwheat, but Wright's Buckwheat for subspecies dialeuca and dialeucoides.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of Eriogonum and other plants.

Habitat: Various arid lands: rocky hills, chaparral, dunes.

Range: Cen. Calif. south to cen. Baja Calif.

Conservation: Subspecies pratti (Emmel and Emmel), davenporti (Emmel, Emmel, and Pratt), nigrescens (Emmel and Emmel), mojavelimbus (Emmel, Emmel, and Pratt), arenaria (Emmel, Emmel, and Pratt), and dialeucoides (Emmel, Emmel, and Pratt) are known from relatively few populations in habitats that may be in the process of being invaded by aliens weeds, especially cheatgrass.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3,G4 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range OR Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery. All subspecies are of conservation concern.

Management needs: Habitat restoration, cultivation of the host plant, and captive breeding of the butterfly may be necessary.

Comment: Behr's Metalmark was formerly considered a subspecies of the Mormon Metalmark.

References:

Emmel, T.C., editor. 1998. Systematics of Western North American Butterflies. 
     Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Fla. 878 pp.

Emmel, T.C. and J.F. Emmel. 1973. The butterflies of southern California. Natural 
     History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles. 148 pages.

Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986.California Butterflies. University of California 
     Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 246 pp, 24 plates.

Opler, P.A. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies.  Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 540 pages, 44 color plates.

Opler, P., and J. A. Powell. 1961. Taxonomic and distributional studies on the 
     western components of the Apodemia mormo complex (Riodinidae). Journal of 
     the Lepidopterists' Society 15(3): 145-171.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, 
     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including 
     adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO. 

Author: Paul A. Opler

Behr's Metalmark (Apodemia virgulti)
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