Behavior
 
Patrolling:  By mid-June 2011, male clemencei regularly patrolled grassland meadows for receptive females.  On 7/11/11, up to 12 males simultaneously patrolled one small 15m2 meadow patch containing the larval host plant (Viola sp.).
Males also patrol the lower foliage of trees (e.g., Coast Live Oak) near meadows.  Over the course of a day, an individual male alternated periods of perching in the grass (right) with active patrolling about 20-30 cm above ground.


Hilltopping:  Although patrolling is the preferred strategy used by male clemencei for locating females, an estimated 5-10% of the male population perched on hilltops and along ridges for passing females.  From mid-June to mid-July up to five male clemencei concurrently perched and chased conspecifics (as well as individuals of other species) at the summit of Chew’s Ridge near the fire lookout (left).  No male-female encounters were observed.  Hilltopping males also frequented secondary summit
s along the ridge north of the lookout.  Most days, the first hilltoppers arrived between 10:00-11:00 AM, and departed after 3:00 PM.  After mid-July, numbers of hilltopping males declined.



Perching:  Males pause after chasing or patrolling by alighting on the ground (right), on small shrubs, or in the lower foliage of trees for varying intervals of time.  While searching for oviposition sites (or cou
rting males?) females settle for brief interludes on the ground, on dead leaves, or in the grass.


Chasing:  From a perched position, males engage conspecifics and occasionally other species in short flights of active pursuit, presumably to determine suitability for mating.  Males chasing conspecific males, including spiraling pursuits, suggests territorial behavior. 


Nectaring:  Both sexes nectar, and show a preference for Cirsium occidentale var. californicum, a native thistle (left).
Other observed nectar sources include Coyote Mint Monardella villosa, Brodiaea sp., Warty-leaved Ceanothus Ceanothus papillosus, and Mule Ears Wyethis sp.




Puddling:  Probing mud for water and/or nutrient salts is rare, but was observed on two occasions, both by males.


Ovipositing:  In July-August, females searched open areas in meadows for oviposition sites, near grass patches containing the withered remains of the dried up Viola host
plant.  Eggs were typically laid on the underside of dead leaves (photo right). 


Wing fluttering:  Upon landing on the ground while searching for oviposition sites, females may rapidly flutter their wings, a behavior thought to discourage potential suitors.  However this behavior was observed even in the absence of males.

 

To achieve the ultimate goal of successful reproduction, male and female butterflies employ various behaviors, which, though generally not unique, can collectively help define and characterize a species.  At the Chew’s Ridge colony in the summer of 2011, S. a. clemencei adults exhibited the following characteristic behaviors: