Natural History and Urban Ecology
of
Selected Butterflies
at
La Mirada Regional Park
Los Angeles County, California

by
Robert Jan "Roy" van de Hoek
Ballona Institute
322 Culver Blvd., Suite 317
Playa del Rey, California 90293
(310) 821-9045
robertvandehoek@yahoo.com
roy@ballonainstitute.org
roy@naturespeace.org
İFebruary 13, 2011

The warm weather today on 13 February 2011 resulted in discovering 4 kinds of butterflies in La Mirada Park from mid-morning to early afternoon, while the sun was warming the temperatures in the park.

The first butterfly seen in the morning was bright yellow and black in colored and as large as the palm of your hand. This butterfly flew between the pines and oaks in a still air with no breeze. The name of this butterfly, the largest butterfly of Los Angeles County, is the Swallowtail. The scientific name is Papilio sp.

The second butterfly seen in the morning was a Mourning Cloak, whose name comes from the black color of the wings, with a highlight of cream-yellow color at the wing tips. While a caterpillar, this butterfly lives and feeds on only a few kinds of host plants, namely willows and cottonwoods, both in the poplar family. These two trees have a long history as native plants in California, but this unique butterfly has also learned to use an ornamental tree of Los Angeles County, namely the elm trees, particularly the Chinese Elm. There are no willow trees in La Mirada Park but there is one Cottonwood Tree near the lake. Although there are no Chinese Elm Trees in the park, this adult butterfly can travel some distance and is a relatively long-lived butterfly in the butterfly world, so a Mourning Cloak can travel for a mile or more to reach La Mirada Regional Park during the adult portion of the life of his fascinating butterfly. The scientific name of the Mourning Cloak is Nymphalis antiopa.

The third butterfly seen was a Monarch Butterfly in the early afternoon. This beautiful bright orange and black colored animal without backbones was seen over the grassy turf near the tennis courts and picnic area by the children play area.

The fourth butterfly seen today was a completely yellow lightly-colored individual that traveled gently over the grassy turf amidst the Disk Golf Course between trees.

Such is the wonder of a wonderfully beautiful regional park of Los Angeles County, nestled in the rolling hills of the City of La Mirada.



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