Monday, July 6, 2009
Hackberry Butterflies (Asterocampa celtis) are very common throughout the Central Plains and the Eastern United States. They are not a large butterfly, measuring roughly 2 inches. Their coloring is somewhat cryptic with brownish-yellow wings with white spots near the tips of the forewings. There is a band of darker spots along the margin of the wings.
While at rest they blend in well with the bark of the trees they are commonly found on. This gives them protection from predation. The adults will sip sap from sapflows, suck fluids from carrion (pictured on deer head) and dung, as well as rotting fruit (pictured here on watermelon). The larval host plant is the Hackberry Tree as their name suggests. They are not known to cause any significant damage to the trees. Hackberry butterflies seem to be tolerant of humans and will often times land on your arm or clothing. I presume this is to lap up our salty sweat. After mating, females will lay their eggs either singly or in small clusters on the leaves of the host tree. These butterflies will sometimes overwinter in the egg stage and still others will overwinter in small groups as caterpillars within rolled leaves. In Missouri there are probably two generations per year. Very pretty butterfly in their subtleness.