Silverado Canyon, Orange County, CA. © Peter J. Bryant.

Wright's Metalmark

Calephelis wrighti

Lepidoptera: Riodinidae

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Silverado Canyon, Orange County, CA. © Peter J. Bryant.

Larva, 5/2/2020. Box Canyon, Anza Borrego Desert © Robert Gorman

Characteristics: Dorsal wing a rather uniform reddish-brown, overlaid with a faint whitish film. Wing fringes are conspicuously checkered with white. Forewing length: 11-12 mm.

Similar Species: Calephelis nemesis californica is similar to C. wrighti in general appearance, The dorsal wing surface of californica, however, is pale chocolate-brown with an irregular darker-colored band, and the upper wing surfaces of californica lack the whitish film present on wrighti.

Distribution: Our early records are from Gypsum Canyon and Irvine Park. The species was evidently fairly common at the Gypsum Canyon locality. Many recent records are from lower Trabuco Canyon near the National Forest boundary, just before the canyon narrows.

Flight Period: March to October, multiple brooded. The summer brood appears to be the one most commonly encountered in Orange County.

Larval Foodplant: Bebbia juncea, Sweetbush. This is a very diffuse shrub, with small leaves (or leafless) 2 to 3 feet high, and possessing small yellow flowers. In Orange County it is found on dry slopes in the foothills (Boughey, 1968). It generally is rather rare, but in one spot in lower Trabuco Canyon (elev. approx. 1200 feet), it is exceedingly abundant along the road and in the floodplain. The plant is common in the deserts.

Other Remarks: The metalmarks of the genus Calephelis are often overlooked because of their small size and drab color. Thus, wrighti may be even more common in Orange County than the records here indicate. The Orange County records indicate a slight range extension from the last published distribution: "Colorado Desert and some parts of cismontane southern California adjacent to this desert (e. g. eastern San Diego County), as well as into southwestern Arizona and northern Mexico. It flies on the coastal side of the San Mego mountains at Lakeside. " (Emmel and Emmel, 1973). Greg Forbes (in litt.) also records wrighti from Mission Gorge, a coastal locality in San Diego County.

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.

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