North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Northern Mexico

Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Heliopetes macaira)
JPG -- species photo

Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Heliopetes macaira [Reakirt])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 3/8 inches (3.2 - 3.5 cm).

Identification: Upperside is white; forewing outer margin and apex are dark. Dark markings of female are wider and wing bases are gray. Underside hindwing of both sexes has a diffuse pattern and an olive brown band at the outer margin.

Life history: Females lay eggs on twigs and buds of the host plant. Caterpillars feed on young leaves, flowers, and fruits. Young caterpillars hide in cracks on the host plant, while older ones live in shelters made of leaves.

Flight: Many broods from April-November in South Texas.

Caterpillar hosts: Turk's-cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) in the mallow family (Malvaceae).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Subtropical forest edges and openings, thorn-scrub, weedy areas, and brush.

Range: South Texas south through Central America to Paraguay.

Conservation: Not usually required.

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 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.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including 
     adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO. 

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.
Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Heliopetes macaira)
distribution map
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