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East of El Paso, the scent of the creosote bush blew in the open window, the crescent moon strung between Saturn and Jupiter above. In the morning the wings of Dogface butterflies flew from the grills of semis. Just the Road, and more Road, as the odometer passed 387,000 miles, 35,000 for the year. It seems no place, no time, to be doing what I’m doing. But then beyond Jacumba, across Tecate Divide, I meet Koji under a cold blue sky. As the first day of December warms, we climb the Laguna Mountains in search of the ornamental eggs (like fancy-syped tiny tires) of Mountain Mahogany Hairstreaks—and find them! 28, in all. Then down into the western hem of the Colorado Desert, where a caterpillar of the California Giant Skipper awaited, plump body in the sun, shiny black head dug into the succulent leaf of a Desert Agave. Yes! (see pics. [below])
At home, heavy winds and rains — which we are about to flee, Thea and I, to Hawaii.
Photos below by Kojiro Shiraiwa, author of the forthcoming book The Butterflies of San Diego County.
Below: RMP in the Laguna Mountains, hunting for hairstreaks again
Below: RMP with Kojiro Shiraiwa in the Laguna Mountains, San Diego County
Below: Habitat of the Mountain Mahogany Hairstreak (Satyrium tetra)
Below: A mass of hairstreak eggs on Mountain Mahogany leaf
Below: Close-up of Satyrium tetra eggs
Below: Desert Agave, hostplant of the California Giant Skipper, in eastern San Diego County
Below: California Giant Skipper (Agathymus stephensi) with its head burrowed into agave leaf
The two photos below: California Giant Skipper larva, head withdrawn, on agave leaf