Currently viewing the category: "Brush Footed Butterflies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Butterfly vs Wasp vs ???
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Florida
Date: 07/26/2018
Time: 11:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this butterfly on a shrub near home and cannot figure out the name.  Have only seen once but am curious has different colors (off white, brown and gold) than what I usually see.
How you want your letter signed:  Elaine

White Peacock

Dear Elaine,
This pretty butterfly, which we identified on BugGuide, is a White Peacock,
Anartia jatrophae, and according to BugGuide:  “Resident from Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to South Texas and southern Florida. Migrates and temporarily colonizes to central Texas and coastal South Carolina. A rare wanderer to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Gorgeous Red Spotted Purple Butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  High Springs, Fl.
Date: 07/22/2018
Time: 10:46 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi big team.  When I lived in Orlando I was a little too far south to see these beauties and I told my husband that it was my dream to one day see a red spotted purple.  Since we moved to north central Florida I now see them occasionally and they are quite photogenic.  We bought a wild cherry tree and even raised a couple of caterpillars into adulthood.  Here’s a photo of my latest sighting.  Thank you for your time and efforts so that nature lovers like myself can enjoy this site.
How you want your letter signed:  Elizabeth (a.k.a . Butterfly Girl)

Red Spotted Purple

Dear Elizabeth,
The Red Spotted Purple is most definitely one of the most beautiful North American butterflies.  Providing habitat and larval foods is a very good strategy for attracting butterflies, and we are happy to hear your wild cherry tree is luring Red Spotted Purples for you.  Because of your habitat creating efforts, we are tagging this submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

I am honored.  I really enjoy every effort to help nature thrive. Thank you.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Costa rica
Date: 07/14/2018
Time: 07:11 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can’t believe I’ve lived here for years and this is the first time seeing this butterfly.
How you want your letter signed:  Jori

Glossy Daggerwing

Dear Jori,
We can’t believe you saw such a beautiful butterfly, yet the image you attached is very low resolution.  We quickly identified Iole’s Daggerwing,
Marpesia iole, thanks to Getty Images., and upon searching for a second reference, we found a Costa Rican FlickR posting identified as the Glossy Daggerwing, Marpesia furcula iole.  The common name Sunset Daggerwing is used on iNaturalist and the range map includes many Costa Rican sightings.  Butterflies of America uses the common name Glossy Daggerwing to identify Marpesia furcula.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Spider subduing a Butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Great Falls National Park, Great Falls, Virginia
Date: 07/08/2018
Time: 02:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I witnessed this butterfly being subdued by the spider, having being caught in it’s web, and I am having trouble identifying either the butterfly or the spider. I hope you can help me. In any case, certainly it was fascinating to watch. The butterfly ceased it’s struggles in about a minute.
How you want your letter signed:  Seth

Hackberry Emperor

Dear Seth,
Based on this BugGuide image, we feel confident this butterfly is a Hackberry Emperor,
Asterocampa celtis, though we acknowledge it might be a similar looking relative from the genus.  Because of the orb web, we are confident the Spider is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, but we cannot provide a species.  It looks immature, and it is often difficult to conclusively identify immature individuals.  In fact, it is also difficult to provide conclusive species identifications from adult Orbweavers.  Orbweavers pose no danger to humans.  They are docile spiders that spin webs, often very strong webs, and they wait patiently in the web to snare prey.  They rarely leave their webs. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  black caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Noth Umpqua area of Oregon
Date: 06/13/2018
Time: 04:44 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi I’ve been having trouble identifying this critter. They showed up June 2, 10 days ago by the thousands. At first they were about 1″ long , now they are around 2″. I’ve been watching their progress and today I noticed some pupae forming. I had thought they were Ceanothus Silk Moth caterpillars but now I don’t thinks so.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks Bill

California Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Dear Bill,
We immediately wrote back to see if you could provide the name of the plant upon which these Tortoiseshell Caterpillars are feeding, because we are certain the genus is
Nymphalis, but we are not sure of the species.  Our likeliest candidate because they are often found in great numbers is that they are Mourning Cloak Caterpillars, but the caterpillar lacks the red spots found on Mourning Cloak Caterpillars and the chrysalis does not really look right.  According to BugGuide, Mourning Cloak Caterpillars feed on ” primarily willow (Salix spp.) but also other trees and shrubs including Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), Trembling Aspen (P. tremuloides), American Elm (Ulmus americana), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).”  Based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe they are probably California Tortoiseshells, and Oregon is well within the range, and since BugGuide states “Larva feeds on various species of wild lilac (Ceanothus),”  knowing the food plant would greatly assist in the identification.  Our least likely candidate due to your location is the Compton Tortoiseshell because most caterpillars are green, but BugGuide does picture this black individual and BugGuide indicates the range as being “southeastern Alaska and across Canada south of the tundra, south in the west to Montana and Wyoming, south in the east to North Carolina and Missouri known to wander; has been recorded as far south as California and Florida, and as far north as Baker Lake, north of treeline in Nunavut” and also states “larvae feed in groups on willow (Salix spp.), birch (Betula spp.), and poplar (Populus spp.).”  In recapping, we are leaning toward California Tortoiseshells, and knowing they were feeding on Ceanothus would seal the deal for us.

Metamorphosis of a California Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Hi Thanks for the response They were feeding on Buckbrush (Ceanothus) and Schoolers Willow. There were people clearing trees and brush from under a major powerline up the hill behind me and they said that the caterpillars completely defoliated over 2 acres of buckbrush. Yesterday I was still seeing them coming towards our home and on the driveway but it is slowing down and they are attaching and forming  the chrysalis. I’m sure looking forward to seeing them when they emerge. Thanks Bill

Please try to send us images of any adults that emerge.  That will surely verify the species.

California Tortoiseshell Chrysalis

How long will they be in the Crysalis? It’s warming up to the 90’s next week.

Two weeks is a good average, but temperature and humidity may affect eclosion time.

Update:  June 27, 2018
These guys showed up today. Lots of them were in my green house plastic lean-to affair, I opened the ends and chased them out. I have yet to see any action from the one I have in a jar and most of the chrysalis’s have disappeared or been eaten. I saw wasps harassing them and an orange fly about the size of a house fly eating one. Some out in the woods were still shaking when I approached so they’re still viable I guess. I was expecting to see more but some are still to come I suppose.
Thanks for your help Bill

California Tortoiseshell

Thanks for the update Bill.  Seems this California Tortoiseshell appeared right on schedule.  Here is a BugGuide image to verify its identity.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What is this caterpillar?
Geographic location of the bug:  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Date: 06/10/2018
Time: 08:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this caterpillar climbing on my front door yesterday. (picture 1)  Today I caught him j’ing (picture 2) He has now turned into a chrysalis.   (picture 3)  There is a second one of the same sort at the bottom of my door.  He is green with a dark head and has barbed setae or spikes.   I would like to know what kind of caterpillar he is and what he will become.  I hope you can help me.  Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Sherrie

Compton Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Dear Sherrie,
How lucky are you???? We have identified your caterpillar as a Compton Tortoiseshell Caterpillar,
Nymphalis l-album, thanks to images posted to BugGuide.  The caterpillar and chrysalis are described on BugGuide,:  “Larva: body speckled and spotted white on pale green, yellow and brown, or blackish, with several rows of branched, usually black spines; head also bears many short spines, with one pair larger and branched near the tip. This is the only Nymphalis species with the pair of branched head horns. Polygonia larvae are similar, though usually with different markings.  Pupae: similar to other Nymphalis and to Aglais species, with two points on head end and two rows of conical projections mostly arranged along the dorsum of abdomen + thorax; plus, one prominent point on the mid-dorsum and more along the sides of the thorax.”  According to BugGuide, the range is:  “southeastern Alaska and across Canada south of the tundra, south in the west to Montana and Wyoming, south in the east to North Carolina and Missouri known to wander; has been recorded as far south as California and Florida, and as far north as Baker Lake, north of treeline in Nunavut.”   The chrysalis of the Compton Tortoiseshell is pictured on the John Fowler website.  If your luck continues and you are able to witness the emergence of the adult Compton Tortoiseshell, we would love to have you send us the images.

Pre-Pupal Compton Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much!  I was curious to see what kind of caterpillar it was.  The caterpillar crawled up my front door and decided that was the place to stay.  Ot was interesting to see him in the j.  An hour and a half later he was a chrysalis.  Only assuming it was that long because that is when I came back from shopping.  I now have another one below my front door, so I have the opportunity to witness two emerge.  I hope they do it while I am watching.  Do you know how long they will stay in the chrysalis before they emerge?
Thank you again,

Hi again Sherrie,
The actual eclosion date, the day the adult emerges from the chrysalis, may vary depending upon temperature and other weather conditions, but according to BBC:  “The chrysalis stage varies between species but is usually around two weeks, whilst the caterpillar inside is undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly. In order to emerge, they need to be out of direct sunlight, at around 25 degrees and in relatively high humidity.”  According to Woodland Trust:  “Conversion to a butterfly takes place inside the chrysalis – this process can take several weeks.”  According to Sciencing:  “Most butterflies take about 10 to 14 days to emerge from their chrysalises.”  Many chrysalides change color just prior to pupation, so that might be a hint that eclosion is near.

Chrysalis of a Compton Tortoiseshell

Update:  June 23, 2018
Hi Daniel,
I ended up having 5 Compton Tortoiseshell caterpillars turn into chrysalis around the front of the house.  You were right their chrysalis do change color prior to eclosion.  I went to get groceries in the morning and noticed that their cocoons had changes color.  I came back and I noticed that one had emerged.  I was gone only 30 minutes.  Sad that I did not get to see the eclosion, just missed it, but happy to see the butterfly resting and finishing his wing development.  Beautiful.  I have included a close up of my newly emerged Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly.  I believe 4 out of the 5 survived and think something happened to the one that cocooned on my front door.  Again thank you for your help identifying my caterpillars.

Eclosion of a Compton Tortoiseshell

Thanks for the update Sherrie.  We really appreciate the images of the adult to add to your previous posting.

You are welcome.  I really wish I had been there a moment earlier to have caught the emergence.  And to have seen it open it’s wings.  I did see one of the ones that had emerged earlier fluttering around the yard, but was too high to get a close up.  Thank you for all your help identifying the Compton Tortoiseshell.  Was happy I could get so close and capture all the detail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination