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Anthocharis sara - male

Anthocharis sara - Male
~4200 ft., off Angeles Crest Highway, San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County, California, USA
March 19, 2008
Taking nectar in Stachys bullata (California Hedgenettle), in grassy area next to a small drainage.

Images of this individual: tag all
Anthocharis sara - male Anthocharis sara - male Anthocharis sara - male

Sorry, this one has been causing me some consternation.
My understanding is that subspecies gunderi is currently considered to be endemic to Santa Catalina Island. I'm not sure if those on the adjacent mainland are really any different, and I'm not sure if they should be called subspecies sara, subspecies gunderi, or something else. This habitat in the San Gabriel Mountians, is a far cry from that on Santa Catalina Island though. Anyway, for now, these have been refered to subspecies sara. This could change. Perhaps all the southern California material will become gunderi; or, something else?

This stuff is way above my pay grade!
I still call it Sara Orangetip.

To be honest -
me too.

I'd be happy to ignore all (or most) of the subspecies here on BugGuide, and just keep it simple - but - - - - there are a lot of people who prefer to call it two, three, or more "species" (and that may be correct), and a lot who don't - so following BOA for now, with subspecies listed, seems a reasonable compromise.

Sorting this out is giving me a headache (at one point recently we had some of the names listed on BugGuide twice, both as as subspecies of sara and as species !).

Oh, and the markings on the upperside show clearly enough on the second photo to tell that this is actually a male.

Now, I think that's enough of a book written for this post. I wonder what the butterfly would think of all this?

Moved from Sara Orangetip.

a bit problematic what to do
At the moment, I think most authors consider "gunderi" to be part of ssp. sara, or an island endemic, and include most everything from northern Baja to northern California in ssp. sara. Material from the San Diego and Orange County areas are usually called subspecies sara as are those from San Luis Obispo and northward. Los Angeles and surrounding environs are in the middle of this, and are generally included in the range too. To me gunderi fits fairly well within the range of variation of a varied and widespread subspecies sara; however, if gunderi is recognized as distinct, this individual might be it (though the name is from Catalina Island). I'm going to list "gunderi" here as separate, in deference to Todd, BOA, and Jonathan Pelham's listing; however, it is still a bit of a conundrum as to what to call the ones inland and further south (should they all remain as ssp. sara with gunderi as a synonym or restricted to the islands; should they all be called gunderi; or, is gunderi intermediate to ssp. sara and something even more distinct in Baja California?

Admittedly, I see a continuum in much of California that is hard to divide up.

Appears to be a female, subspecies sara
Based on Butterflies through Binoculars the West - which doesn't show the female with wings closed - and personal observation. Note that the orange doesn't go near the tip of the wing, as does the pattern on the male.

Subspecies include sara (apparently the most common), stella, thoosa, and julia. (I wanted to add this material and more to the BG info page, but couldn't find a way. Subspecies differ in appearance and habitat.)

Re: Appears to be a female, subspecies sara

"Note that the orange doesn't go near the tip of the wing, as does the pattern
on the male."

The ventral hindwing orange doesn't go near the tip of the wing on males either.
The best way to distinguish males from females of this butterfly from the
ventral surface is to observe the narrow band of pink in between the orange tip
and the ventral forewing mottling.  Click

to see a photo of males above; females below.

Also, A. sara is not the most prevalent species in the group. That taxon
is mostly a California endemic with populations replaced by A. julia to
the north in SW Oregon; A. julia stella near Lake Tahoe, A. thoosa
to the east in the Mojave Desert, etc. A. julia is the most prevalent species
with populations in Northern NM, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana,
Oregon, Washington, north to Alaska.

Thanks, Todd
For the correction and additional information

I may have another photo
of this individual showing a bit more, but don't have time to look for it right now.
Good to see that you're flying again, Ron!
Re. the subspecies you list: Glassberg's book was published in 2001. Opler & Warren (2003) list those as species: cethura, sara, julia, stella, and thoosa , based on research by Geiger and Shapiro (1986), with the caveat that Opler is currently studying this issue. I don't know the status of this.
Except for julia , we do have pages for these at bugguide.

Re: I may have another photo

This butterfly is a female Anthocharis sara; but, not necessarily A. sara sara as the Type Locality of that butterfly is in Northern California (Queen Lily Campground--Plumas County). Topotypical A. sara is a little bit different than SoCal A. sara. In my opinion, the closest subspecies to Southern California A. sara is gunderi. (I am also doing research on the A. sara complex.)

Your input is much appreciated, Todd!
My information on this butterfly is rather limited (looking at beetles right now, and waiting for warmer weather to go 'beeing').
Emmel & Emmel ((1)) list ssp. gunderi Ingham for Santa Catalina Island, see also the images at butterfliesofamerica.
Subspecies sara Lucas, acc. to Emmel, flies in SoCal's foothills and mountains, and "even the desert edge". The butterfly in the photo seems to fit the darker spring brood ("reakirtii") which is part of A. sara sara in Pelham; ssp. thoosa Scudder, which obviously doesn't apply here, lives in the eastern Mojave as far as California is concerned.
For what it may be worth, I posted another photo from the same location, though possibly another individual, also a female, provided this one actually is a female.

Glad to be back, Hartmut.
Shot a mating pair of these today and will post soon. Thanks for the update on subspecies.

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