(This reply from Rich is in reference to a question about lack of publicity over the discovery of Polygonia haroldi in the Davis Mts, as seen in our earlier post.)
11:05PM 29 June 2013
via the TX-Butterfly list-serv:
Actually, I think there has been a fair bit of comment on it, just not on this listserv. There are just so many forums to post stuff to nowadays. I think the initial post, which was to get confirmation on the ID, was on a NABA forum. Anyway, because the Spotless Comma was found on private land, the observers have been inclined towards vagueness about the locality of the sighting. I can be a bit more specific. Despite what the AP Press reported (they did a story of several rare Davis Mountains critter sightings and mistakenly stated that the comma was at Davis Mountains State Park), the comma was actually found in the high country (near 8000') on The Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve. Apparently, the sighting did generate a fair bit of interest, but we (TNC) don't really have a good handle on that interest as most of the queries were directed at Dr. Hoyt, the researcher from the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute who actually found the comma and initially posted about it. So, I am not sure how much interest there was/is in chasing the comma, possibly collecting it, or whatever. Anyway, the comma or I should say commas, have now been seen for about a month now. We have actually confirmed multiple individuals and a courtship flight has been observed. Their host plant (Ribes) is available in the mountains. According to "A Swift Guide Butterflies of Mexico and Central America", Polygonia haroldii is a bug of pine-oak forest and, until now, it was known to range as far north as the Sierra del Carmen just south of Big Bend. This sort of begs several questions - are these just vagrants, recent colonists, an overlooked/undiscovered until now member of the local butterfly fauna? The site where the commas are being seen is not totally inaccessible (though not necessarily easily accessible), but it is also in an area with sensitive habitat and several rare plants and we do have some concern about potential impacts to that habitat and those plants.
Richard Kostecke, Ph.D.
The Nature Conservancy
318 Congress Ave., Austin, Texas 78701
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