North American Butterflies and Moths List

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

The Registry of Nature Habitats

U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of New Mexico

Gray Cracker (Hamadryas februa)
JPG -- species photo

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:

Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1980. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. 
     University of Oklahoma Press. Norman.

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.

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Add Toliver, M., Holland, R., and S.J. Cary. 1996. Distributional data
     for New Mexico Butterflies. Privately published. Albuquerque, N.M.
Gray Cracker (Hamadryas februa)
distribution map
map legend

Return to species list
Return to Butterflies of North America main page