Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron [Fabricius])
Wing span: 2 1/8 - 2 5/8 inches (5.4 - 6.7 cm).
Identification: Hindwing has a long dagger-like tail. Upperside is dark brown with 3 pale brown stripes and 3 white spots near the tip of the forewing. Underside is light brown; basal half is gray with thin orange stripes.
Life history: Eggs are laid singly on buds of the host plants. Caterpillars eat leaves and make a resting platform with silk and dung pellets.
Flight: May-December in Mexico, probably all year in Central America, February and July-October in South Texas.
Caterpillar hosts: Leaves of shrubs and trees in the fig family (Moraceae).
Adult food: Nectar from Cordia, Lantana, and Croton.
Habitat: Tropical forests, openings, and river valleys.
Range: Argentina north through Central America to Mexico and the West Indies. A frequent stray to South Texas; rarely strays to Kansas and southern Florida.
Comments: In the tropics this species experiences population explosions and mass migrations.
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. 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, 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.