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BACKYARD 1 — BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA
at 9601 Oak Pass Rd. (1938—1957)
LOS ANGELES COUNTY, in the E. SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS
Historical Macro-Moth Study (1953-1957)
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BIOTA ALONG OAK PASS ROAD DURING THE 1940's–1950's

(B) LOCAL BUTTERFLY HIGHLIGHTS
This is merely a brief summary from memory (no photos, no written records), ......But, certain remembered details may prove of interest to lepidopterists visiting (or living in) the locality today, as these notes date clear back to the 1940's-1950's, when the area was essentially “virgin ” habitat (but for the road itself). My launch into the pursuit of Lepidoptera was through the usual channel: butterflies only (to start with)!....But, by the early 1950's, I had already begun to wake up to the fact that here were all these beautiful, interesting, and essentially “unknown” MOTHS (hundreds of species — not just a mere handful of well-known and over-collected entities, like the butterflies)....Still, I continued to hunt butterfly larvae as avidly as the moths, up until the year of our departure from this locality (1957). The notes below merely record a few of the more vivid memories, primarily documenting local butterfly abundance, and sometimes giving details regarding their larvae or locally preferred foodplants. All references to street-addresses (in the 9500's to 9700's) refer specifically refer to locations along upper Oak Pass Road. The (1983) MONA checklist number is given for each species of butterfly or skipper mentioned [M-], but some of the names used below are following more recent publications.

NOTE: An asterisk (*) to the left of any plant or insect name at this website always implies an introduced or naturalized species, not “originally” native to the locality being discussed. Unfortunately, this status applies to numerous well-known weedy annuals growing in the Mediterranean climatic zone of coastal southern California. [See also HOVORE ESSAY no. ]
(1) SWALLOWTAILS (Fam. Papilionidae) — Three spp. were always present in the area: Papilio eurymedon Luc. [M-4179] was by far the most abundant (using Rhamnus ilicifolia and Prunus ilicifolia as foodplants here); next was P. rutulus L. [M-4177];  least common was P. zelicaon Luc. [M-4167].  The “weedy” perennial foodplant of the latter (fennel, *Foeniculum vulgare) was very scarce in this nearly undisturbed or “virgin” locality; only two large clumps were present in the entire district, both in disturbed roadside situations — one persisted about 100 yards north of the entry to 9626 Oak Pass for many years, and the other was near the upper Oak Pass/Summitridge intersection.  Both of these (widely separated) locations, however, often rendered larvae on the fennel, indicating that the adults (which I rarely saw) were circulating through the habitat. They were sometimes seen “hilltopping” along the Peavine Ridge fire-break (highest point in the area). Regarding Rhamnus, there was only one (large) individual of R. californica growing anywhere near 9601 (this was at 9540, on a north-facing bank), but R. ilicifolia was abundant everywhere.
(2) WHITES & SULPHURS (Fam. Pieridae) — The Sara orange-tip, Anthocharis sara Luc. [M-4206] flew from late January (earliest emergences) into April;  they were consistently abundant every year, from late winter into early spring.  There was also a far less abundant late spring to early summer emergence (May-June), of slightly larger individuals.  The introduced (*) Brassica nigra was one foodplant that I documented here.  A favored nectaring-flower (of the early spring brood orange-tips) was the wild hyacinth, Dichelostemma pulchella, which grew in abundance on open grassy slopes and hilltops, in sunny openings between the bushes, and in grassy glades of the oak-or walnut-dominated areas, on heavy clay soils (as in the vicinity of 9626 to 9601).

Along upper Oak Pass Rd., the cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae (L.) [M-4228], was occasionally seen nectaring at our lantana-bank, in the garden at 9601, and always elicited a frantic dash for the net — as did males of Zerene eurydice (Bdv.), the Calif. dog-face [M-4225]!  The latter was slightly more abundant here (but by no means common); a few large individuals of its foodplant (Amorpha californica) grew for many years in openings amongst the oaks, on a north -facing slope to the southeast of 9720 Oak Pass (just below our ridge).  The first perfect male dogface that I ever captured was such an exciting event that the date was permanently “burned” into my memory: 10 OCT. 1954, in the late afternoon (visiting the lantana in our front yard)!  This specimen may still be in the L.A. County Museum collection(?)  Dog-face females were much more often seen than the males....Harford's sulphur, Colias alexandra harfordii Hy.Edw. [M-4211b] was seen occasionally, and likewise always caused a mad-dash for the net!  Possible foodplant(s) for the latter may have been one or two spp. of rattle-pods (Astragalus), which grew in the paler clay soils around 9626 Oak Pass, and down the ridge (firebreak) directly to the west of the former Colburn residence. The orange sulphur Colias eurytheme Bdv. [M-4210] was regularly seen at the lantana-bank in our garden, but never in abundance.  We had various weedy, introduced clovers (*Medicago & *Melilotus) growing around the watered areas of the garden.  A possible native foodplant may(??) have been the pink-flowered wild sweet pea, Lathyrus laetiflorus ssp. barbarae, a common perennial climber in the chaparral/oak woodland associations throughout the area.

It is worth mentioning that, even in this relatively “virgin” habitat, the cabbage white *Pieris rapae (L.) [M-4197] was already well-established, due to the great abundance of one particular weedy mustard growing along roadsides throughout the area — *Brassica geniculata (summer mustard).  This hardy weed remains green and “edible” far into the summer drought season, unlike the other abundant (annual) mustards, all of which are dead by early summer. I often found P. rapae larvae on B. geniculata here;  they were able to complete several generations on this (biennial/perennial) mustard every year.  The checkered white, Pontia protodice Bdv. & Lecnt. [M-4193], also regularly used *B. geniculata as a foodplant here.  [Click here to see this plant.] In some recent publications, *Brassica geniculata (Desf.) J.Ball (formerly *Brassica adpressa!) has now been synonymized under the name *Hirschfeldia incana (L.) Lag.-Fos..  Whatever the text you are using, all 3 of the above names apply to this same introduced mustard, as referred to above (originally native to the Mediterranean and Near East)....

The sleepy orange, Eurema nicippe (Cram.) [M-4242] was never seen in our home locality, although I had dreams of rearing it (if it ever came around), by planting an ornamental *Cassia shrub in our garden.  I had occasionally seen it flying a few miles away, down in Benedict Canyon, where there were no doubt various spp. of sennas growing in the suburban gardens....But there was no plant, originally native to the Oak Pass Rd. habitat, which would have been a suitable foodplant for the larvae of this butterfly.
(3) COPPERS, HAIRSTREAKS, BLUES  (Fam. Lycaenidae) — This section is by no means complete, but only touches upon a few of the best-remembered highlights!....Our most spectacular (and rarely seen) lycaenid was the Great “Purple” (actually, blue) Hairstreak, Atlides halesus (Cram.) [M-4270];  it occasionally appeared at 9601, typically visiting wet spots around the garden, not flowers.  But, a most memorable facet of its life history was how easily it could be found (and collected for rearing) in the form of conspicuous pure white eggs, attached singly to the deep olive-green leaf surfaces of its local foodplant, Phoradendron tomentosum ssp. macrophyllum (a common local mistletoe).  The host of this mistletoe (along Oak Pass Rd.) was always Juglans californica (Calif. black walnut), growing in scattered groups throughout the area;  this same mistletoe was often found on sycamores down in the canyons below.  As a child, I reared many individuals of A. halesus from field-collected eggs (from walnut-infesting mistletoes), taken near the entry to 9626 Oak Pass during the late 1940's — early 1950's.  I was incredibly excited over my first captive emergence of this species!  I also recall a faint “clicking” sound sometimes produced by the live pupae, when touched or handled....Other (more common) local hairstreaks were Callophrys dumetorum (Bdv.) [M-4301], using deerweed (Lotus scoparius) as its foodplant here (spring);  Incisalia augustinus iroides (Bdv.) [M-4322c], using buds and fl. clusters of the abundant orange dodder (Cuscuta ceanothi Behr.) as its favored foodplant here (late winter into spring);  Satyrium saepium (Bdv.) [M-4288], feeding on new lvs. of a wild lilac, Ceanothus megacarpus (spring);  S. tetra (Edw.) [M-4287], feeding on new lvs. of mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), and matching superbly the underside of this “two-tone” leaf (spring into summer).  The above were all regularly seen here (except A. halesus).

The marine blue, Leptotes marina (Reak.) [M-4357], was very abundant around the garden, as was Strymon melinus Hbn. [M-4336]; one or both of these spp. may have been using commonly planted ornamentals such as *Plumbago sp. (shrub with pale blue fls.) or *Hibiscus, as foodplants in our garden(?).  The pygmy blue, Brephidium exile (Bdv.) [M-4353], was occasionally seen around the garden, where a weedy Chenopodium was the probable  foodplant.  Other blues and hairstreaks were also present (some of them abundant), but no other explicit details can be recalled!....One (scarce) copper, Lycaena arota nubila (Comst.) [M-4250b] would appear every year as a single, territory-defending male, invariably perching on the same bush in our garden, near a pathway.  Each next generation (of this univoltine sp.) selected the exact same bush and branch as a territorial perch, year after year!  I never encountered any other individuals elsewhere in the habitat, although they must have been there (in low numbers).  Only two Ribes spp. were present at this locality, both of them abundant (see McF. & Colburn 1968, for details). [Click here]
(4) METAL-MARKS (Fam.  Riodinidae) — Two spp. were present:  Apodemia mormo virgulti (Behr) [M-4402b] was common further to the east, along upper Oak Pass Rd., Summitridge, and down the Marion Way fire-road, mostly restricted to the decomposed granite and rocky soils, where it used the abundant wild buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) as its foodplant.  It was never seen around the garden at 9601 (heavier clay soils).  However, Calephelis nemesis (Edw.) [M-4388] was a regular but uncommon denizen of the garden, where its local native foodplant (Encelia californica Nutt.) grew as an abundant member of the Sage Scrub assemblage, which dominated the NW. slope of our ridge, and penetrated the edges of the garden on that side.
(5) BRUSHFOOTS  (Fam. Nymphalidae) — The California sister, Adelpha bredowii californica (Butler) [M-4527b] was always flying around the oaks at 9601, but never in large numbers; they would regularly come to wet patches in the watered parts of the garden. Gabb's checkerspot, Chlosyne gabbii (Behr) [M-4495] was consistently abundant around the garden every spring.  Its larvae fed on two native perennial composites: Hazardia (or Haplopappus) squarrosa, which was very common on the NW. slopes around 9601, and it also used a whitish-pubescent form of Corethrogyne filaginifolia (found generally throughout the district). There was some tendency to “rotate” between these two plants in different years, although the tender new leaves of Hazardia were typically preferred around 9601. Chlosyne leanira (Felder) [M-4505] was present at 9601 from the 1940's into the early 1950's (only), and then vanished. Its presumed local foodplant, bird's-beak (Cordylanthus filifolius) grew in abundance from 9601 to 9626 Oak Pass, forming loose “colonies” (hundreds of individual plants), scattered in amongst the woody Sage Scrub elements (Artemisia californica, Salvia mellifera, etc.) that lined the pathway between our house and the garage at 9601 — a distance of several hundred feet.  [Indian paintbrush (Castilleja) grew nowhere nearby]....Euphydryas chalcedona (Dbldy.) [M-4517] was always present around the garden, but seemed somewhat “cyclic” from year-to-year (abundant only in some years).  Its only local foodplant (around 9601) was Diplacus longiflorus (bush monkey flower), which was a dominant shrubby plant in many places throughout the district.  A couple of miles to the SE, on decomposed granite soils (along Summitridge Rd. and on the Peavine Ridge fire-break), Penstemon spectabilis was sometimes eaten by these larvae.

The buckeye, Junonia coenia (Hbn.) [M-4440], was regularly present in low numbers;  its (uncommon) local foodplant was a perennial vervain, Verbena lasiostachys Lint., growing in damp areas around the garden at 9601.  The mourning cloak, Nymphalis antiopa (L.) [M-4432] was rarely seen, as its foodplants were city and canyon-dwellers — not present anywhere around our ridge-top location.  In the nearby city gardens (Beverly Hills and Westwood) it was much more numerous.  There its larvae avidly fed upon the various Chinese or Asiatic elms (*Ulmus parvifolia Jacq., and other similar ornamental *Ulmus spp.), commonly planted as street trees, and around the parks or school-yards, etc.....I often brought home handfuls of mature antiopa larvae in my school lunch-box (much to my mother's delight).  These were sometimes conspicuous around Beverly Hills and Westwood, seen crawling down the elm trunks in large numbers, when leaving the trees to seek their pupation sites elsewhere.

The four Vanessa spp. [M-4434, 4435, 4436, 4437] were all well represented in the district.  The larval nests of V. virginiensis (Drury) were always conspicuous on the entirely white-pubescent cudweed, Gnaphalium microcephalum, which grew in abundance on the walls of the rocky decomposed granite “cuts” or road-banks of upper Oak Pass, Marion Way, and Summitridge.  There were two distinctly different color-forms of its chrysalis: the common one had an entirely a pale pinkish-gray ground color, with some darker gray maculation (matte surface/no sheen); the other (rarely seen), was a rich golden-green on the wing-cases and abdomen, with darker (brownish) markings and lines.

Larvae of the painted lady, V. cardui (L.), were partial to the colony of Lupinus succulentus growing near 9626, where they could often be found inside their silk-covered leaf-nests.  V. annabella (Field), the west coast lady, regularly used cheese-weed (*Malva parviflora), or hollyhock (*Alcea rosea), around the garden at 9601 (forming larval leaf-nests similar to cardui). The red admiral, V. atalanta (L.) was the least common of the four, but individuals were regularly seen defending territories in the afternoon, in sunny openings along shaded pathways amongst the oaks (always alighting on the ground). I never found large nettles (Urtica dioica) growing anywhere nearby, so can only surmise that they must have been using the small native annual dwarf nettles, Hesperocnide tenella Torr., which grew as scattered “colonies” on certain damp, north-facing slopes, in the semi-shade of Cercocarpus bushes, along upper Oak Pass just below Summitridge Rd., and probably elsewhere on the steep slopes and cool ravines immediately to the north (not far from the house at 9601).

The monarch, Danaus plexippus (L.) [M-4614], was a regular “passing visitor” around the garden at 9601, but never in large numbers. Its local foodplant, was a native perennial milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa Benth. (with large and very white-woolly or tometose lvs.), which grew abundantly in small groups along the roadside between 9601 and 9626; monarch larvae could always be found on the same plants, every year.

The ringlet, Coenonympha california Westwood [M-4586], was very abundant in the spring/early summer throughout the area, often seen fluttering weakly (close to the ground) in open, grassy locations. The only other satyrid (far less abundant) was a dark brown woodnymph, Cercyonis oetus silvestris (Edw.) [M-4590b], sometimes seen “bouncing” rapidly through the chaparral along upper Oak Pass Road (late spring-early summer).
(6) SKIPPERS (Fam. Hesperiidae) — Two dusky-wings were common around 9601, particularly Erynnis funeralis (Scudder & Burgess) [M-3957]; its local native foodplant, deerweed (Lotus scoparius), was an abundant and widespread herbaceous perennial, growing throughout the district, esp. in disturbed ground along roadsides, etc.. The other (less common) dusky-wing was an oak feeder. One of the large white skippers, Heliopetes ericetorum (Bdv.) [M-3971], was occasionally seen around the garden. A single specimen of its perennial foodplant, the large shrubby bush-mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus), persisted by the roadside for many years, just west of our driveway-entry at 9601; this was the only individual of its kind growing anywhere nearby. Several times (on summer afternoons), I had observed the umber skipper, Poanes melane (Edw.) [M-4065], ovipositing on St. Augustine grass (*Stenotaphrum secundatum), planted as a tough and hardy “lawn” at 9601. There were also a few other spp. of smaller skippers around the district; several of these were quite abundant, but no further butterfly/skipper details worth recording remain in the “memory-banks”!....As I had already “graduated” to moths by the mid-1950's, I have a legitimate excuse for the sketchiness of the above butterfly summary!! Still, “sketchy” is better than nothing, when it comes to “reconstructing” a long-vanished habitat in a locality that is now "developed" beyond recognition....
1A — Growing Up Wild in the ELFIN FOREST north of Beverly Hills (1938-1957)

Dedications

Growing Up Wild in Beverly Hills!

EARLY DAYS on OAK PASS Rd. (1937-1945) and HOW the ROAD GOT ITS NAME

FIRES

- (A) Botanical Highlights

-- Historical Remarks on Oaks

-- EARLY EVOLUTIONARY STAGES of the "SMOG-DENIAL SYNDROME"!

-- OAK PASS NATIVE PLANTS TODAY (??)

-- Echos From the Past!

-- A Bit of SUMMERTIME FOGBANK-BOTANY

- (B) LOCAL BUTTERFLY HIGHLIGHTS

- (C) LOCAL BIRDS REMEMBERED

- (D) LOCAL MAMMALS REMEMBERED

- (E) REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS REMEMBERED

CONTACT INFORMATION

DESSERT (Purely for Amusement!)

THE HONEY-SNOB'S CORNER


1B — BACKPORCH MOTH COLLECTION at 9601 Oak Pass Road (1953-1957)

A five-year study (1953-1957) documenting the occurrence of 283 macro-moth species on one acre of woodland habitat at 9601 Oak Pass Rd., 5 road-miles north of Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills (a mixture of undisturbed Southern Oak Woodland / Chaparral / Coastal Sage Scrub habitat, at 1100 ft. elevation).

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THIS CALIFORNIA SITE

ABOUT THE BACKYARD CONCEPT

BACKGROUND & INTRODUCTION

About the Moth Studies at 9601 Oak Pass Road

BEATING or SWEEPING for LARVAE - A MOST PRODUCTIVE COLLECTING TECHNIQUE

ABUNDANCE-RATINGS DEFINED

The OLD BEVERLY HILLS (OAK PASS ROAD) MOTH STUDY COMPARED WITH THREE OTHER (MORE RECENT) SURVEYS IN COASTAL SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

OBSERVED DIFFERENCES IN THE MACRO-MOTH FAUNAS OF THE ABOVE THREE OTHER SURVEYED COASTAL CALIFORNIAN LOCALITIES

HISTORICAL PHOTOS and A PLEA for FUTURE STUDIES in the SAME REGION

FRANK SALA'S CORNER

FRANK HOVORE'S CORNER


1C — HABITAT PHOTOS Documenting the Surrounding Locality (1957-1964)

1C - HABITAT PHOTOS (1957-1964)

DIRT ROADS

Copyright ©2005-2011 Noel McFarland. All Rights Reserved.