Huachuca Giant-Skipper (Agathymus evansi [H. A. Freeman])
Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 3/8 inches (4.5 - 6.1 cm).
Identification: Upperside is very dark black-brown with orange at the wing bases. Band of spots on each wing is narrow and yellow (yellow-orange in females) with black veins separating the spots. Underside of hindwing is mottled gray and brown with pale overscales, and has an indistinct pale band.
Life history: From early morning to noon males perch near host plants to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on the host and fall to the base of the plant. A young caterpillar crawls to a leaf tip and burrows inside where it eats pulp and then hibernates. In the spring the caterpillar makes a new burrow in a leaf base where it feeds on sap until becoming inactive for the summer. Before pupating, the caterpillar enlarges the opening of its burrow and makes a silk trap door from which the adult can emerge.
Flight: One brood from September-October.
Caterpillar hosts: Parry's agave (Agave parryi).
Adult food: Females do not feed; males take moisture from mud.
Habitat: Open woodland.
Range: Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona.
Conservation: Populations and their habitats should be conserved wherever found.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G1 - Critically imperiled globally because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences, or very few remaining individuals), or because of some factor of its biology making it especially vulnerable to extinction. (Critically endangered throughout its range).
Management needs: Preserve habitat and discourange overgrazing.
Bailowitz, R. A., and J. P. Brock. 1991. Butterflies of southeastern Arizona. Sonoran Arthropod Studies, Inc., Tucson, Arizona. 342 pages. 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