|American Snout Butterfly - Libytheana carinenta|
Live snout butterfly photographed at San Antonio, Texas
Family Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
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The snout butterfly is known for its mass migrations which occur at irregular intervals when populations explode in the south and southwest. They may become so numerous as to darken the sky. One of these migrations was reported south of San Antonio in mid-September, 1996, where countless butterflies were observed flying northward.
In late September 1921, a flock estimated at more than 6 billion southeasterly-bound snout butterflies passed over a 250 mile front (San Marcos south to the Rio Grande River). Gable and Baker (1922) noted that this flight lasted 18 days.
American Snouts host on species of Hackberry (Celtis), but Spiny Hackberry (Celtis pallida) provides the fuel for the tremendous periodic population explosions across the arid southwestern United States. Spiny hackberry is one of the more common shrubs of the Tamaulipan thornscrub (or Texas Brush Country). Other common names for this spiny hackberry include Granjeno and Desert Hackberry. Note that while other species of Celtis can host snout caterpillars, the non pallida species don't put on new leaves (which the just hatched caterpillars require) in significant summer rain events. -- Mike Quinn Texas Entomology
I found this very cooperative snout at MaCallister Park in San Antonio, Texas, in February of 2003.
Snout butterflies have prominent elongated mouthparts (labial palpi) which give the appearance of the petiole (stem) of a dead leaf. Wings are patterned on black-brown with white and orange markings. The fore wings have a distinctive squared off, hook-like (falcate) tip. Caterpillars appear humpbacked, having a small head, swollen first and second abdominal segments, and a last abdominal segment that is tapered. They are dark green with yellow stripes along the top and sides of the body, two black tubercles on the top of the thorax.
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