Ruddy Daggerwing (Marpesia petreus [Cramer])
Wing span: 2 3/4 - 3 3/4 inches (7 - 9.5 cm).
Identification: Tip of forewing is elongated. Hindwing has long dagger-like tails. Upperside is orange with 3 thin black lines. Underside is mottled brown and black, resembling a dead leaf.
Life history: To watch for females, males perch 15-30 feet above ground on sunlit trees.
Flight: Most of the year in Florida, but are most common from May-July.
Caterpillar hosts: Common fig (Ficus carica) and wild banyan tree (F. citrifolia) in the fig family (Moraceae).
Adult food: Nectar from giant milkweed in Florida; Cordia, Casearia, Lantana, and Mikania in the tropics.
Habitat: Tropical lowland forests and edges; hardwood hammocks.
Range: Brazil north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to southern Florida. Strays north to Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Texas.
Conservation: Not of conservation concern in Florida.
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 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, 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.