Mexican Sootywing (Pholisora mejicana [Reakirt])
Wing span: 15/16 - 1 3/16 inches (2.4 - 3 cm).
Identification: Upperside is glossy black; forewing has many white spots. Underside of hindwing is blue-gray with contrasting black veins.
Life history: Adults bask with the wings spread open. To find receptive females, males patrol near the ground in sunny places; mating takes place in the morning and afternoon. Near midday, females lay eggs singly on the tops of host plant leaves. Caterpillars live and feed within shelters of folded leaves. Caterpillars of the second brood overwinter in their silk-lined leaf shelters and pupate within them in the spring.
Flight: Two broods from May-August.
Caterpillar hosts: Amaranths (Amaranthus) and lambsquarters (Chenopodium).
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Open areas such as gulches, canyons, roadsides, and along railways.
Range: Central Colorado south through New Mexico to Oaxaca, Mexico. A rare stray to South and central Texas.
Conservation: Populations in the United States should be located, monitored, and their habitat needs ascertained.
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