Utah Lepidopterists' Society

Founded 6 Nov 1976

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Utah Habitats for Butterflies and Moths

Wasatch Valley Meadows--North/NE Vicinity of SLC Intl. Airport


1. Wasatch Canyons

2. Wasatch Valley Riparian

3. Wasatch Valley Meadows

4. Wasatch Hilltops

5. Arctic Alpine

6. Basin & Range Province

7. Canyon Country

8. Montane

9. Utah's Dixie

The Wasatch Valley Meadow habitat just to the North and Northeast of Salt Lake International Airport is slowly diminishing due to construction of homes and businesses.  However, there still remains sufficient suitable habitat where, unlike similar habitat in Utah County, one can find colonies of the common ringlet (Coenonympha tullia ampelos) as well as the small checkered skipper (Pyrgus scripura.)  (Note:  The small checkered skipper isn't normally associated with wet meadow habitat as its larval hostplant, alkali mallow (Sida hederacea.) is normally associated with disturbed, arid areas.)  

It is interesting to note that similar wet meadow habitat to the south in Utah County has yielded colonies of butterflies not normally found in Salt Lake County's valley floor.  These species include the queen (Danaus gilippus thersippus,) baird's swallowtail (Papilio bairdi,) taxiles skipper (Poanes taxiles), russet skipperling (Piruna pirus), and the garita skipperling, (Oarisima garita.)  Note:  The queen has not been recorded in Salt Lake County at all.

Monarchs, which is one of Northern Utah's migratory species, are especially attracted to these wet meadows.  During the summer months of July through September, adults of the monarch especially prefer to roost in Russian olive trees to escape the heat of the day.  In fact, female monarchs will often lay their eggs on the milkweeds adjacent to these Russian olive trees as well on milkweeds near nectar sources.  

The key to finding monarch larvae in the late summer is to seek out milkweeds that are growing adjacent to or underneath Russian Olive trees like the ones you see in this photograph.


Butterfly Species Checklist For this Habitat:

Swallowtails (Family Papilionidae)       

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus rutulus)
Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata pusillus)


Brush-footed Butterflies (Family Nymphalidae)

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pratensis camillus)
Thistle Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta mylitta)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
West Coast Lady (Vanessa carye annabella)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta rubria)
          Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus satyrus)
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
         Weidemeyer's Admiral (Limenitis weidemeyeri latifascia)

Gossamer-wing Butterflies (Family Lycaenidae)

Purplish Copper (Lycaena dorcas helloides)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus franki)
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exile)
Reakirt's Blue (Hemiargus isola alce)
Melissa Blue (Plebejus melissa melissa)

Milkweed Butterflies (Family Danaidae)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Satyrs (Family Satyridae)

Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala utahensis) Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia ampelos)

Skippers (Family Hesperiidae)

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis) Small Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus scriptura) 
Juba Skipper (Hesperia juba)
          Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti sabuleti)
Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides napa)

Whites and Sulphurs (Family Pieridae)

Checkered White (Pieris protodice)
Western White (Pieris occidentalis)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice eriphyle)
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

All images of Limenitis weidemeyeri on the ULS Info Bar courtesy Jay Cossey

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