Apodemia mormo Coast Range segregate

Mormon Metalmark

This beautiful metalmark flies in the late summer and into autumn using Eriogonum nudum var indictum in the Coast Ranges. What really sets this one apart is its tendency to look like the endangered subspecies langei, best known from the Antioch Dunes in the Bay Area. Add this to the list of interesting single-brooded, fall-flying mormo that use a late-blooming buckwheat. It's difficult to put a name to these at this point (Ken Davenport has it as a "near mormo" segregate, which makes sense to me). Its appearance and choice of host plant may suggest it deserves a name that helps underscore its distinctiveness. But the bigger picture is only beginning to come into focus, and taxonomic determinations made largely on the basis of appearance aren't holding up well in light of the DNA results. Some believe langei itself may not prove to be any more distinct an entity than many other populations, including, perhaps, this one.

Apodemia mormo nr mormo from the coast ranges
Apodemia mormo nr mormo from a colony along Davis Road, approx. 7 miles south of highway 46 in the Cottonwood Pass area. I believe Ken Davenport found these years ago; the location is in San Luis Obispo County just west of the Kern County line. All these photos were taken there on September 3rd, 2019.
Apodemia mormo nr mormo from the coast ranges
Another from the same colony; there were at least a dozen flying and all were freshly-emerged.
Apodemia mormo nr mormo from the coast ranges
This one has that classic langei phenotype.
Apodemia mormo nr mormo from the coast ranges
A ventral shot of one nectaring on the host, Eriogonum nudum var indictum.
Apodemia mormo nr mormo from the coast ranges
This colony is at the northern edge of my ever-changing definition of southern California.
Apodemia mormo nr mormo from the coast ranges
I found this larva in the same stand of buckwheat on Davis Road on May 14, 2020. It was probably less than a half inch long, and feeding on the outer skin of the buckwheat food plant. In fact, that's how I found it: looking for feeding damage to the stalks.

 

©Dennis Walker