Apodemia virgulti pratti

Pratt's Metalmark

Subspecies pratti is found in the Holcolm Valley north of Big Bear Lake in large patches of its main larval food plant, southern mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kennedyi ssp. austromontanum). The white macules are really bold on the dorsal side of the wings against a brown and burnt orange ground color. This butterfly was named after Gordon F. Pratt, and is described by John and Thomas Emmel in the 1998 Systematics book (pp.795-6). They have it flying from early May to mid June, and say it overwinters as a last instar larva. According to a 2011 article by Pratt, J. Emmel, and Gary Bernard in American Butterflies, Eriogonum wrightii is another foodplant for pratti.

Photograph of Apodemia virgulti pratti from Holcomb Valley
Apodemia virgulti pratti is a spring-flying member of the Mormon Metalmark complex. Note the enlarged white markings. It was described by John and Tom Emmel in the 1998 Systematics book (page 795-6). The host is usually Eriogonum kennedyi (sometimes E. wrightii), and these photographs were taken at the type locality, which is Holcomb Valley north of Big Bear Lake. May 23rd, 2009.
Male Apodemia virgulti or dialeuca pratti
The males of Apodemia virgulti pratti are a bit smaller than the females; this and the one below appeared to be males.
Photograph of Apodemia virgulti or dialeuca pratti
Pratt's metalmark. The location, Holcolm Valley, is over 7000' in elevation and is an open, flat area surrounded by pine forest. The valley was very active during the California gold rush, and these butterflies were in an area that is one stop on a signed tour of the area's historical landmarks.
Apodemia virgulti or dialeuca pratti ventral
Pratt's Metalmark, the ventral side. "Pratt" is Gordon Pratt, a well-known lepidopterist who teaches at UC Riverside.
Female Apodemia virgulti or dialeuca pratti
This female Apodemia virgulti pratti was ovipositing in the buckwheat. The adults fly early May to mid-June, and the last larval instar overwinters.

©Dennis Walker