Pholisora catullus

Common Sootywing

This small skipper is in most counties in southern California, but it is not common in my experience. There are few records on iNaturalist as well for southern California. Generally, these lack submarginal white dots on the hind wing, or they are very small, especially compared to those considered crestar in the Sherman Pass vicinity. Catullus may be single or double-brooded, depending on conditions. The caterpillar food plants are various Amaranths and goosefoots, including natives Amaranthus fimbriatus (Amaranthaceae) and Chenopodium californicum (Chenopodiaceae). They may also be found using non-native Chenopodium murale, and I've seen an egg at Cactus Spring Trail that I believe to be this species on Salsola tragus (Russian thistle), which is also in the Chenopodiaceae, or goosefoot family. Unfortunately it didn't hatch.

Pholisora catullus - Common Sootywing
Not the best photo, but I believe this is the only common sootywing I've seen at Cactus Spring Trail. Turns out, since subspecies crestar was named in 2017 (and it took awhile for me to find this out), this is the only photograph I have of the nominate subspecies. All the other catullus I have seen are from the Kern/Tulare region and are crestar. So I'll need to keep an eye out for these and get some better photos. May 12, 2018.

©Dennis Walker