Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis

Tuolumne Metalmark

I'm putting the mormo populations from the Frazier Park/Mt Piños area here. I've seen these in late July and in August on Frazier Mountain Road around E. umbellatum; in August on the McGill Trail below Mt Piños around both umbellatum and nudum; and in August on a trail out of Lockwood Valley where wrightii predominates (but haven't confirmed any of these as hosts). Ken Davenport puts these populations under tuolumnensis in his relatively recent publication updating the Emmels' Southern California book, and I'm following his lead. I don't drive to this area much, and wish I had more intimate knowledge of the butterflies there; one observation I can make is that the males in the small colony above Lockwood Valley immediately reminded me of those I saw years ago along Van Dusen Road north of Big Bear Lake. This colony above Lockwood was in a patch of (mostly) wrightii, and I believe the McGill trail host plant was umbellatum. Tuolumnensis at the type locality in Yosemite is said to use nudum.

Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis was named by Paul Opler and Jerry Powell in a 1961 paper*. What is described is a "Sierran population" at Yosemite, from the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. They wrote, "So far as is known the subspecies is restricted to a population along a four mile area of the Pate Valley trail from about 4500' to 7000'." But we now know the range is much greater. The types were collected August 1, 1959 and August 20, 1954. The late-summer/fall-flying mormo flying in the Frazier Park area some 220 miles to the south is also considered tuolumnensis by Ken Davenport,† and I think he is probably right.

* "Taxonomic and Distributional Studies on the Western Components of the Apodemia mormo Complex (Riodinidae)," Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, Vol.15, No.3, pp.145ff.

Butterflies of southern California in 2018: updating Emmel and Emmel's 1973 Butterflies of southern California, p.118.

Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis - Tuolomne Mormon Metalmark from the Frazier Park area
A female Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis from a trail out of Lockwood Valley that begins at the end of Vernon Drive. Females are larger and have more extensive yellow/orange, especially in the hind wing. August 16, 2019.
Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis - Tuolomne Mormon Metalmark from the Frazier Park area
A male from the same place and time as above. Note the reduced white spotting and the ground color of the hind wing compared to the female.
Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis - Tuolomne Mormon Metalmark from the Frazier Park area
The ventral is said to be darker than that of some other members of the complex. Same day as above.
Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis - Mormon Metalmark from Frazier Park
Female Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis from Frazier Mountain Road. This was July 23, 2017, and this fresh one was the only one I saw this day, so the flight had was just getting underway (I saw none along the same road a week earlier).
Apodemia mormo tuolomnensis - Mormon Metalmark from Mt Pinos
This fall-flying population, Apodemia mormo tuolumnensis, along the McGill Camp trail at Mt. Piños is or was considered cythera for some.

©Dennis Walker