Butterflies flutter by on San Bruno Mountain

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Just like men from their tweed and women from their sweaters, the mission blue butterflies are emerging from their cocoons with the onset of spring.

The endangered butterfly can be seen high up on San Bruno Mountain and in the Twin Peaks area in San Francisco, hanging out on their host plant, the blue lupine, which is also in bloom.

Outdoor enthusiasts and naturalists encourage locals and visitors to check out the areas because the endangered mission blue, as well as other butterflies, are flying, and the wildflowers are in bloom, making for a good chance to view the annual event.

The mission blue butterfly is one of four endangered or threatened butterfly species on San Bruno Mountain. The others are the San Bruno elfin, which can be seen flying this time of year, the Callippe silverspot and the bay checkerspot.

“[Mission blues] fly when the wildflowers are pretty much at their peak on the mountain,” said Victoria Harris, the vice president of Thomas Reid Associates, a firm that has managed the mountain’s open space for 25 years.

A deep blue on the upper wings edged by black and white denotes male mission blues. The wings of a female are primarily brown with some blue close to the body of the insect.

Ken McIntire, the executive director of the local activist group San Bruno Mountain Watch, said the mission blues would fly for at least a month on the grassy areas. The San Bruno elfins are also flying, but more on the rocky outcroppings, such as those up near the radio towers on the 1,314-foot San Bruno Mountain.

Flowers such as Johnny jump ups and Franciscan wallflowers are beginning to blossom as well, McIntire said.

“Everything’s starting to go, so it’s a great time to get out for a walk,” he said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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