Gray Cracker (Hamadryas februa [Hübner])
Wing span: 2 3/4 - 3 3/8 inches (7 - 8.6 cm).
Identification: Upperside is mottled brown and white; forewing cell bar with some red; hindwing eyespots have orange scales before the black crescents. Underside of hindwing is white; submarginal eyespots are composed of a brown ring around a black crescent in a white center.
Life history: Adults rest on tree trunks head downward with their wings spread open. Males perch on trees and make a cracking sound when they dart out at passing insects (and people). Eggs are laid singly under leaves or sepals of the host plant; caterpillars are solitary and build resting platforms out of dung pellets. Before dark, adults gather on a single tree, then disperse to roost in nearby trees or shrubs.
Flight: Many flights; throughout the year in the tropics, August-October in South Texas.
Caterpillar hosts: Vines (Dalechampia) and herbs (Tragia) in the family Euphorbiaceae.
Adult food: Sap and rotting fruit.
Habitat: Subtropical forest and edges, cultivated areas with trees.
Range: Argentina north through tropical America to Mexico. A rare stray to the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
Conservation: Not required for a rare stray.
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.
DeVries, P. J. 1987. The butterflies of Costa Rica and their natural history. Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 327 pages,50 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.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo.