Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis [Boisduval & LeConte])
Wing span: 1 3/8 - 2 1/2 inches (3.5 - 6.3 cm).
Identification: Extremely variable geographically. Upperside is reddish brown. Forewing has 1 submarginal eyespot, a jagged row of white spots, and the cell has 1 solid black bar and 2 separate black spots.
Life history: Hackberry Butterflies fly in a fast and erratic manner, and rest upside down on tree trunks. Males perch on tall objects in sunny areas to watch for females. Eggs are laid in clusters, and the young caterpillars feed communally. Caterpillars overwinter in groups gathered inside dead rolled leaves.
Flight: Two broods from May-October.
Caterpillar hosts: Various hackberries (Celtis species) and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata).
Adult food: Sap, rotting fruit, dung, carrion. Will take moisture at wet spots along roads and streams.
Habitat: Along wooded streams, forest glades and river edges, wooded roadsides, towns.
Range: Resident in most of the eastern United States, central Plains states, and the southwest mountains; northern Mexico.
Conservation: Not usually of conservation concern.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.