Chlosyne leanira alma

Leanira Checkerspot

The sublime orange subspecies of leanira found far out in the California desert and in parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah is subspecies alma. It is a beautiful spring flyer that uses a beautiful plant, Castilleja chromosa, as its larval food source. The type locality of alma is the Argus Mountains in Inyo County thanks to a revision of the leanira complex in the 1998 Systematics book by George T. Austin and Michael J. Smith (pp. 333ff. of "the big blue bomb"). It's one of my favorites.

Chlosyne leanira alma - A desert Leanira Checkerspot
This Chlosyne leanira alma was hilltopping at Teutonia Peak near Cima Dome in the Mojave National Preserve. April 28, 2020.
Chlosyne leanira alma - A desert Leanira Checkerspot
A single Chlosyne leanira alma was nectaring along Excelsior Mine Road in the Kingston Range in the far northeast corner of southern California. Of the 80 or so butterflies remaining on my list, this may well be the one I wanted most. This was my first alma sighting. April 13, 2020.
Chlosyne leanira alma - The Leanira Checkerspot from the deserts
This darker phenotype is typical of those from Cottonwood Pass in Nevada, a great Mojave desert spot southwest of Las Vegas. It was patrolling along a ridgeline there on April 22, 2020. As dark as it is relative to the one above, it isn't in the same ballpark as wrighti.
Chlosyne leanira alma - The Leanira Checkerspot from the deserts
Same one as above, showing the underside. This is a cool butterfly.
host of Chlosyne leanira alma - Castilleja chromosa
Castilleja chromosa is the host of Chlosyne leanira alma, and seeing healthy stands of this plant along the road to the Kingston mountains got my attention and led me to the butterfly.

©Dennis Walker