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In The Ditch

Updated: Feb 22

I don't know why Ditch Creek in the Blue Mountains of Morrow County is so-named. It's really quite a lovely little stream, meandering through meadows of grasses and wildflowers. It is the place that Entomologist Andy Warren, now of the McGuire Center in Florida, recommended I look for the Pink-Edged Sulphur. I'd visited a couple times in the early 2000's and got inspired to go back again.

The name Pink-edged Sulphur is a bit misleading because virtually all of our sulphur species have pink edges on their wings. For instance, the female Western Sulphur below that I saw and photographed in the meadows along Ditch Creek. The black over-scaling on the hindwing and the pointed forewing tell us its a Western Sulphur.

Photo of female Western Sulphur butterfly
Female Western Sulphur, Ditch Creek Rd, Morrow County

The previous times I'd been to Ditch Creek I was rewarded with a rich diversity of species, and this year was no exception. You can see a list of the species I recorded at the end of this piece. I did not find any Pink-Edged Sulphurs, just Western and Orange Sulphurs, but

I did get a jaw-dropping opportunity to photograph a male Blue Copper that had just emerged from its chrysalis and was drying its wings in the sunny spells between the morning clouds:

Photo of male Blue Copper butterfly
Male Blue Copper, Ditch Creek Road, Morrow County

Although I didn't end up in the ditch along Ditch Creek, I did get a flat tire from a rock in the ditch along the road, the first in my new Subaru Forester. I was amused by the folks driving by and how they responded to seeing me completely unpacking the pile of camping gear in the back of my car to get to the spare. That's when I rediscovered that the spare tire is one of those wimpy "donut" spares. Some of the passersby smiled and waved. Others just plowed on past, dusting me with the plume behind their truck. The two guys in the one truck that stopped were the most entertaining. They displayed good "man-etiquette" and said, "it looks like you got this handled, but is there anything you need?" I thought that was a nice display of culturally appropriate (for Morrow County) emotional intelligence. I had to drive on miles of gravel roads, and then another 100 miles on pavement on that spare to get to the nearest Les Schwab dealer in La Grande to get the flat fixed. Luckily, the donut did the job, and I was able to complete the rest of the trip with no further mishaps.

Photo of male Field Crescent butterfly
Male Field Crescent, Ditch Creek Road, Morrow County

Here's a list of what I saw:

Image of list of butterflies seen at Ditch Creek Road in Morrow County

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