Subject:  Butterfly or moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Tucson, AZ
Date: 08/09/2019
Time: 03:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
I saw this butterfly or moth in an orange tree in my friends backyard in Tucson yesterday 8/8/19 around 5pm.
Sent it out to family, but no one knows what it is so far.
My friend fears it could hurt the tree.
If you are able to identify it I’d appreciate knowing what it is and if it takes up residence, could it cause harm and if so, how to encourage gently, to find another home.
Thank you for your service.
All the best,
How you want your letter signed:  Patrick

Hackberry Emperor

Dear Patrick,
Though your images lack critical sharpness, we are relative certain this butterfly is a Hackberry Emperor,
Asterocampa celtis, based on this BugGuide image.  We are intrigued with your friend’s irrational fear that a butterfly might pose a threat to the orange tree.  Butterflies generally feed on nectar.  Only in the caterpillar stage when most species feed on leaves would a butterfly pose anything resembling a threat to a tree, and then only if the caterpillars are very plentiful.  Is there a hackberry tree nearby?  Because the caterpillars feed on the leaves of hackberry, BugGuide notes of the habitat preference:  “Varied, but always near Hackberry trees.” 

Location: Tucson, Arizona

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *