MacNeill's Saltbush Sootywing
Hesperopsis gracielae is a small skipper of the Colorado River environs, from the Nevada/Arizona border south into Mexico. It flies in two broods - April-May and again July-October - using Atriplex lentiformis. This skipper is uncommon, and the Xerces Society lists it as "Vulnerable". California Fish and Wildlife lists it in its Natural Diversity Database of rare plants and animals. An obvious issue with this species' prospects is the long-term viability of the large stands of Atriplex lentiformis growing wildly that sustain it.
This little skipper had been on my list for several years before I finally made the long drive to Blythe hoping to photograph one. I headed to the Palo Verde Ecological Reserve, which is along the California side of the Colorado River near Interstate 10. To my relief, I did see three of them in stands of their host saltbush, Atriplex lentiformis. October 4, 2019.
Same one, showing a bit of the ventral side of the wing.
It was taking nectar in a great spot I found, which was near water from canals in a lush area on the edge of the woods, teeming with insects. In the desert heat, a well-watered place with flowers, thick grass, and mud is going to be good. I intend to return to this reserve in the spring, when I would expect it to be even better, butterfly-wise.
Well, I did return on April 12, 2020, and Hesperopsis gracielae was in flight.
Another from the same spring day.
Soon after a female oviposited on the host A. lentiformis, I got photos of the egg.
Here is MacNeill's original description of this butterfly from 1970. It was published in Vol. 81, No. 87 of the Entomological News, pp. 171ff. It was moved from genus Pholisora ca. 1981 and placed in Hesperopsis.