Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
These names are variously treated as synonyms, subspecies, or sometimes even as full species by different authors.
Lemonias mormo C. Felder & R. Felder, 1859. Type locality: Salzee [= "Salt Lake" in German], apparently in Nevada [F. Martin Brown suggested the east flank of the Californian or Nevadan mountains near Reno and Carson City, Nevada (1967), J. Lepid. Soc. 21(4): 272; L. Miller & F. Martin Brown narrowed it to “near Pyramid Lake, Washoe Co., Nevada” (1981), Mem. Lepid. Soc. (3): 131; J. Emmel [et al] went with “Davis Creek Park, W. of Washoe Lake, Washoe County, Nevada” (1998), Syst. W. N. Am. Butts. (5): 89]
Nemeobius dumeti Behr, 1865. Type locality: California [neotype from Davis Creek Park, west of Washoe Lake, Washoe County, Nevada]
Chrysobia mormonia Boisduval, 1869. Type locality: Oregon
Apodemia mormo deserti W. Barnes & McDunnough, 1918. Type locality: La Puerta Valley, San Diego County, California
Apodemia mormo langei J. A. Comstock, 1939. Type locality: Antioch, Contra Costa County, California
Apodemia mormo autumnalis Austin, 1998. Type locality: 2 miles north of Red Cloud Mine, Spring Mountains, Clark County, Nevada
Apodemia mormo dialeucoides J. Emmel, T. Emmel & Pratt, 1998. Type locality: Sugarloaf Mountain, San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County, California
Apodemia mormo mojavelimbus J. Emmel, T. Emmel & Pratt, 1998. Type locality: Ord Mountains, San Bernardino County, California
Apodemia mormo parva Austin, 1998. Type locality: west slope of Diamond Mountains, 0.8 miles north of Eureka, Eureka County, Nevada
Explanation of Names
Certain named populations may be variously recognized as synonyms, as subspecies, or as distinct species, depending upon author, and some names are assigned to different species by certain authors.
Various authors do not treat "subspecies" and "species" of the "mormo complex" in the same ways, and therefore published treatments may seem to be at odds. The treatment here will by default differ from certain others. Future molecular studies and population studies may radically change the way subspecies are treated within the mormo complex of species, but to date there seems to no final agreed upon arrangement. The arrangement followed here remains relatively conservative, and may not follow those most recently published by every author. The arrangement here may not be entirely biologically correct either, but it is impossible to say what is truly "correct" in this varied group, yet. Studies of the group are ongoing.
Here a relatively conservative and traditional distinction based largely on coloring is followed, and while this seems to fit fairly well with limits of natural populations, it may eventually proove to be incorrect or overly simplistic.
Much like A. virgulti & A. mejicanus, but hind wing with little or no orange coloring above; when present, orange on upper hind wing is usually concentrated toward the base and not in a median band across the wing; with median row of white spots set on a dark background and usually edged in black.
Occasional specimens occur (relatively rare though), which appear to be intermediate.
Western North America: British Columbia to Saskatchewan in Canada south into northern New Mexico, Sonora, and Baja California in the US and Mexico.
Largely absent from areas where A. virgulti & A. mejicanus occur, but overlapping ranges with both.
Varied. Mostly open sunny gravelly or rocky areas, sometimes dunes, usually sloping, where hosts - Eriogonum species - grow.
In Southwest mostly a late season butterfly, with a main flight during August - October, but in some areas or in some years flights may occur as early as March and as late as November, and there may be one to three flights in a season. Northward mostly one brood in late spring or summer (late June - early September, varying some with the local climate).
Larval food: Eriogonum spp. (Buckwheat). Adult flights tend to occur when larval host plants are flowering and adults favor those same plants as nectar sources (but will use others as well).
A lively butterfly that usually flies quickly and relatively low to the ground, in areas of bright sunshine. It mostly remains close to it's larval host plants, and avidly visits flowers (particularly those of the larval hosts).
A member of the Apodemia mormo complex or "superspecies", of which members are all considered as a single variable species by some authors, while other authors recognize varied numbers of distinct species. Certain types that look different may coexist in the same areas, yet appear distinct, which implies that in those areas there are at least two species. Relationships between various populations are still being sorted out.
Visual distinctions between populations treated as subspecies are often minor, and tend to involve average differences in the saturation, amounts, and quality of various colors in the pattern (as more or less orange on the front wing, deeper or lighter coloring of the hind wing, larger or smaller white spots, etc.). Differences may be entirely based on flight season or host plant choice as well. Generally a subspecies name can be asigned based on location, but in some areas the insects are intermediate between named subspecies or may vary tremendously with elevation or even individually within the same population. There seem to be regional differences in behavior (such as flight times and host plant choices), likely in response to local climate, environment, and host plant availability. Populations are often fragmented and isolated from one another, especially near the northern and southern limits of the species, and differences in average appearance from one population to the next often occur.
Some named subspecies are considered as rare and endangered by virtue of their small population size and restricted (some nearly totally destroyed) habitats. As these insects seem to be fairly habitat specific and apparently usually do not seem to travel great distances, there are probably other local but as yet unnamed populations in areas with strong urban growth or other human development that may be similarly endangered.