Pale-spotted Leafwing (Anaea pithyusa [R. Felder])
Wing span: 2 1/4 - 3 inches (5.7 - 7.6 cm).
Identification: Upperside is black and dark blue; forewing with pale blue spots; hindwing with a tail. Underside mimics a dead leaf.
Life history: Males perch on trees to wait for females. Eggs are laid singly under leaves of host plant; caterpillars eat leaves. Young caterpillars make a perch out of a leaf midvein; older ones live in a rolled leaf shelter.
Flight: The wet season form flies from November-March; the dry season form from May-September. Flies in South Texas in March, July, September, and November.
Caterpillar hosts: Cuala (Croton lucidus) in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae).
Adult food: Rotting fruit and dung.
Habitat: Open subtropical forests.
Range: Peru and Bolivia north through Central America to Mexico and the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
Conservation: Not required for rare tropical 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.
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.