Compiled by Edward C. Knudson, 8517 Burkhart, Houston, TX, 77055


Updated Sept. 1997

The Insect order Lepidoptera includes the Moths and Butterflies and includes over 11,300 described species in America north of Mexico. About a tenth of these species are known to occur in Santa Ana, or are likely to occur on the refuge. The order is subdivided into about 75 families, of which about 60 could be expected to occur in Santa Ana. The True Butterflies include 10 families and the Skipper Butterflies include 2 families within the order. Butterflies may be seen on the refuge year round, though they are most abundant in the summer and fall. Many species occurring in Santa Ana are tropical in origin and are found only in extreme south Texas, or in southern Florida and Arizona. Moths far outnumber butterflies in species, but are seldom observed by most visitors, as nearly all fly only at night and hide during the daytime, or have colors and patterns, which serve to conceal them in their resting places.


The Lepidoptera have an important place in the biology of the refuge. The larval stage (caterpillars) are nearly all plant feeders and may be quite destructive to the vegetation at times, though parasites and predators tend to keep populations in check. Plants also have various adaptations which serve to' protect them from caterpillars. These include physical defenses such as spines (Acacia spp.) or tough leathery leaves (Anacua); chemical defenses in the form of toxins; and guards, in the form of ants, which may nest in certain plants and will destroy all caterpillars they can find. Both the larval and adult stages of Lepidoptera form an important food source for many kinds of reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Lepidoptera also play a significant role in the pollination of flowering plants.


 The life cycle of Lepidoptera is known as complete metamorphosis. It begins with tiny eggs, laid by the adult female on or near the food plant. These hatch into small caterpillars, which begin feeding and undergo a series of molts or instars. When the larva is full grown, it molts again, but this time into a pupa. In many moths the pupa is enclosed within a cocoon, which is usually spun from silk glands on the last instar larva. In true butterflies no cocoon is formed and the pupa is referred to as the chrysalis. During the pupal stage the larval structure transforms into the adult insect or imago. Upon emergence, the adult expands its wings and is ready to fly in an hour or less. In most species, the adult lives only one or two weeks, though in some species the adult migrates or hibernates during the winter and thus lives for several months. In cold climates, the insect may pass the winter at any stage of development, though this is constant within each species. This waiting period is called diapause. Diapause may also occur during dry seasons.

Adult Lepidoptera do not feed on plant tissue, as do the larvae, but usually have a coiled proboscis with which they suck nectar from flowers, or nutritious fluids from sap flows, rotting fruit, or even carrion. Some do not feed at all during the adult stage. The larvae usually feed on leaves, buds, flowers, or bore into stems of plants. Some feed on dead leaves or other detritus, or almost any organic material including flour, chocolate, furs, and wool.


Adult moths, as well as many other insects are often attracted to ­lights at night, especially ultraviolet light. The explanation for this is complex and seems to be a combination of an attractance-avoidance response. Many moths (and some butterflies) are attracted to fermented sugary baits, which are usually painted on trees and checked during the night with a flashlight (or by day in the case of butterflies). This is an excellent way to observe many moths that might not otherwise be seen. Although collecting of Moths and Butterflies is not permitted within Santa Ana Refuge, observing and photographing butterflies is an activity to be encouraged. Excellent field guides are available to enable identification of the many species that occur on the refuge.


Characteristics of the Refuge and its Lepidoptera


Perhaps the most striking thing about Santa Ana to the visitor is how different it is from the surrounding country of the lower Rio ­Grande valley. It is, in fact, a small representation of what the entire area looked like before most of the land was cleared for agri­culture. Technically this area is part of the Tamaulipan Biotic province, and represents an incursion into the U.S. of a subtropical flora and fauna, which is characteristic of northeastern Mexico. True tropical forests are found only about 150 miles south of the border at this point. Many of the species of Lepidoptera are really only temporary inhabitants of this area, as they are unable to survive the cooler winters and thus must recolonize the area every summer. Other species may never really become established, even for one season, but may occasionally stray northward on favorable winds or storms. Most of the commoner species, however, are adapted to the subtropical climate and occur year round. Many of these species, or close relatives are also found in southern Florida, which does have some truly tropical areas. However, since there is easy access to wandering species across northern Mexico, the tropical Lepidoptera fauna is richer than that of Florida.


Format of the Checklist


The checklist is arranged according to the most recent checklist available (Check List of the Lepidoptera of America north of Mexico, (Hodges, 1984). Each species is numbered for convenience and this number is listed in front of each species name. There are some species in Santa Ana Refuge, which have no number, as they were either discovered to occur in the U.S., or described, since the checklist - was sent to press. The scientific name is given next, which consists of the genus (beginning with a capital letter); the species name (never capitalized); and the name of the author of the species (abbreviated). If the author's name is enclosed in parentheses, this indicates the species was later transferred to a different genus from that in which it was originally described. In some cases, there will be a third name, or subspecies, but all entomologists do not accept the use of subspecies. Although scientific names are difficult to learn and pronounce, the serious student of Lepidoptera should try to learn them, in preference to the common names, which are often confusing.


There is considerable dispute over both the scientific and common nomenclature of butterflies. I have chosen to follow Neck, 1996 in both areas, as this is the book to which most persons studying butterflies in Texas, will refer.


Not enough is yet known about the Lepidoptera of Santa Ana Refuge to permit the inclusion of seasonal distribution, but in general it is apparent that the tropical elements in the fauna tend to be more abundant in the late summer and fall. The table given below indicates the relative abundance or rarity of species.


As it is not possible to include illustrations of the species, some of the characteristics of the different families and subfamilies are given in the text of the checklist.



A- Abundant (occurring year round in large to very large numbers)


C- Common (Occurring most of the year in moderate to occasionally large numbers)


U- Uncommon (Seasonal, occurring in small to moderate numbers)


0- Occasional (Probably not present every year, but occasionally present in moderate numbers)


R- Rare (Not usually present, when found only in small numbers) 


X- Accidental (Recorded only once or twice, probably as a stray)


H- Hypothetical (Not recorded from Santa Ana, but has been found in similar habitats nearby, or recorded as accidental from the tropics to the north of the area)


Family HESPERIIDAE: Skipper Butterflies

This family includes most of the Skipper Butterflies and is very well represented in Santa Ana Refuge. Skippers differ from True Butterflies in having more robust bodies, usually narrower, pointed forewings, antennae, which are thickened at the tip, but not clubbed; and usually subdued colors and patterns. Two large subfamilies are represented in Santa Ana, the Pyrginae, which are larger, mostly dark brown or black species, although some sport long tails and bright metallic colors; and the Hesperiinae, which are smaller, brown or orange, often with a dark groove on the forewing of the males, which contains scented scales. The Hesperiinae feed almost entirely on grasses, whereas the Pyrginae generally feed on other types of plants.

3866: Phocides polybius lilea (Reakirt) Guava Skipper R - 0 in Cameron Co. 

3867: Phocides urania (Westwood) Urania Skipper H - no modern US records 

3868: Proteides mercurius sanantonio (Lucas) Mercurial Skipper X - not recorded recently from TX.

3871: Epargyreus exadeus cruza Evans Exadeus Skipper X - not recorded since the 1970's.

3872: Polygonus leo histrio Roeber - Hammock Skipper R - last seen in Starr Co., 1995.

3873: Polygonus manueli Bell & Comst. Manuel's Skipper H - May occur occasionally in coastal Cameron Co..

3874: Chioides catillus albofasciatus (Hew.) White-Striped Longtail U - formerly more common

3875: Chioides zilpa namba Evans Zilpa Longtail 0 - last seen in 1996, Madero

3876: Aguna asander (Hew.) Gold-Spot Aguna 0 - several seen in Starr & western Hidalgo Co's 1995.

3877: Aguna claxon Evans Emerald Green Aguna X - no recent records

3878: Aguna metophis (Latr.) Tailed Aguna R- last recorded Starr Co., 1994

3878: Typhedanus undulatus (Hew.) Mottled Longtail H- former colony near Reylampago, TX. not seen recently.

3879: Polythrix mexicana Freeman Mexican Polythrix X

3880: Polythrix octomaculata (Sepp) Eight Spotted Polythrix R - last seen in Santa Ana in early 1980's

3883: Codatractus alcaeus (Hew.)  Alcaeus Skipper X

3886: Urbanus proteus (L) Long Tailed Skipper/Bean Leaf Roller U - formerly more common in SE Texas.

3887.1: Urbanus belli (Hayward) H - Brownsville, 1968. Bell's Longtail? 

3887: Urbanus pronus Evans Short-Tailed Green Longtail

3888: Urbanus esmeraldus (Butler) Esmeralda Longtail X

3889: Urbanus dorantes (Stall) Dorantes Longtail U

3890: Urbanus teleus (Hbn.) Teleus Longtail U

3891: Urbanus tanna Evans Tanna Longtail X

3892: Urbanus simplicius (Stoll) Plain Longtail X

3893: Urbanus procne (Plotz) Brown Longtail U- more common in Cameron Co.,

3894: Urbanus doryssus (Swain.) White-Tailed Skipper R- last seen in early 1990's

3896: Astraptes fulgerator azul (Reak.) Flashing Astraptes U- last seen Bentsen SP June 1997

3897: Astraptes egregius (Butl.) Green Flasher X

3898: Astraptes alardus latia Evans White Flasher X

3899: Astraptes gilberti Freeman Gilbert's Flasher X

3901: Astraptes anaphus annetta Evans Yellow Flasher r- but not seen recently

3907: Achalarus toxeus (Plotz) Coyote Skipper U- formerly more common, still common in Starr Co.

3908: Achalarus jalapus (Plotz) Jalapus Skipper H- R in Starr Co.,

3916: Cabares potrillo (Lucas) Potrillo Skipper U - present in Audubon Palm Grove 1997

3917: Celaenorrhinus fritzgaertneri (Bailey) Fritz' Skipper X- no recent records 

3918: Celaenorrhinus stallingsi Freeman Stallings’ Skipper X- no recent records

3919: Dyscophellus euribates (Stoll) Euribates Skipper H- (according to Neck, 1996)-I have collected this near Cd. Victoria MX in mid 1970's

3920: Spathilepia clonius (Cram) Falcate Skipper R

3921: Cogia calchas (H-S) Calchas Skipper C - occurs in dry resacas around Mimosa ssp.

3922: Cogia hippalus (Edwards) Acacia Skipper X- common in SW Texas- Big Bend

3924.1: Arteurotia tractipennis (Butl& Druce) X - Arteurotia Skipper X

3925: Nisoniades rubescens (Moesch.) Purplish-Black Skipper X

3926: Pellicia angra Evans Confused Pellicia X? - seen next sp.

3927: Pellicia arina Evans Glazed Pellicia R- This and possibly the preceding sp. were formerly common during the early 1980's. I have not attempted to separate my specimens

3927.1: Pellicia dimidiata H-S. Morning Glory Pellicia H- taken once at Bentsen SP

3928: Bolla clytius (God.& Salv.) Mottled Bolla R- not seen since late 1980's

3929: Bolla brennus (C&S) Obscure Bolla H- no recent records

3930: Staphylus ceos (Edw.) Ceos Skipper R- enters area from west

3931: Staphylus mazans (Reek.) Southern Sooty Wing C

3933: Gorgythion vox Evans Variegated Skipper X- last recorded in Starr Co., 1992

3934: Sostrata bifasciata nordica Evans Blue Studded Skipper X

3935: Carrhenes canescens (R. Feld.) Hoary Skipper R

3936: Xenophanes tryxus (Stoll) Glassy Winged Skipper R- last recorded in Cameron Co., 1994

3937: Systasea pulverulenta (R. Feld.) Texas Powdered Skipper 0- formerly more common,

3919: Achlyodes mithridates tamenund (Edw.) Sickle Winged Skipper A - most common larger Skipper

3940: Grais stigmatica (Mab.) Hermit R

3941: Timochares ruptifasciatus (Plotz) Brown Banded Skipper 0- present in Audubon Palm Grove July 1997

3942: Chiomara asychis georgina (Reak.) White Patch/Asychis Skipper U

3943: Gesta gesta invisus (Butl & Druce) False Dusky Wing H- occurs along coast

3952: Erynnis horatius (Scud. & Burg.) Horace's Dusky Wing H- enters area from north-Oak Belt

3953: Erynnis tristis tatius (WH Edw.) Mournful Dusky Wing H- enters area from west- taken occasionally in Starr Co.

3957: Erynnis funeralis (Scud.& WS,) Funereal Dusky Wing C

3967: Pyrgus albescens Plotz Western Checkered Skipper A

3968: Pyrgus oileus (L) Tropical Checkered Skipper A

3469: Pyrgus philetas Edw. Philetas Skipper U- prefers arid habitat, may be increasing

3970: Heliopetes domicella (Erich.) Erichson's Skipper R

3972: Heliopetes laviana (Hew.) Laviana Skipper C

3973: Heliopetes macaira (Reek.) Macaira Skipper C

3974: Heliopetes arsalte (L.) Common White Skipper H- Common in Mexico, 1 record from Bentsen SP

3975: Celotes nessus (Edw.) Streaky Skipper U- hard to see

3977: Pholisora catullus (F.) Common Sooty Wing C-- disturbed areas, farm fields

3980: Hesperopsis alpheus texanus Scott Saltbush Sooty Wing H- may occur in dry saline areas of refuge

3985: Piruna microsticta (Godm.) H- few records from area

3987: Synapte malitiosa (H-S) Malicious Shady Skipper R- formerly more common

3988: Synapte salenus (Mab.) Salenus Skipper X

3989: Corticea corticea (Plotz) Redundant Swarthy Skipper R- obscure species, not seen recently

3990: Callimormus saturnus (H-S) Saturn Skipper H- few old records

3991: Vidius perigenes (God.) Perigenes Skipper H- occurs in clay lomas along coast, seen in 1996

3992: Monca tyrtaeus (Plotz) Violet Patch Skipper R- formerly more common 

3994: Nastra Julia Freeman Julia's Skipper U- has declined recently

3997: Cymaenes odilia trebius (Mab.) Fawn Spotted Skipper C

3998: Lerema accius (JE Sm.) Clouded Skipper A- will accept Guinea Grass 

3999: Lerema liris Evans Liris Skipper X- easily confused with L. accius 

3999.1: Vettius fantasos Stoll Fantastic Skipper H- taken at Penitas, 1975

4000: Perichares philetas adela (Hew.) R- last seen in Starr Co., 1996 - Green Backed Skipper 

4001: Rhinthon osca (Plotz) X

4002: Decinea percosius (God.) Percosius Skipper 0

4003: Conga chydaea (Butt.) Chydaea Skipper X- not seen recently

4004: Ancyloxypha numitor (F.) Least Skipper R- occurs in wet areas

4005: Ancyloxypha arene (Edw.) Tropical least Skipper H- not seen, by me, east of Falcon Dam 

4009: Copaeodes aurantiacus (Hew.) Orange Skipperling C

4010: Copaeodes minimus (Edw.) Southern Skipperling U

4013: Hylephila phyleus (Drury) Fiery Skipper A- especially on lawns

4045: Polites vibex praeceps (Scudder) Whirlabout A

4046: Wallengrenia otho (JE Sm.) Broken Dash C

4049: Atalopedes campestris (Bois.) Sachem A

4049.1: Atrytone mazai Freeman H- may enter area from west, questionably distinct from A. logan (WH Edw.) should be called Maza's Skipper  

4060: Poanes zabulon (Bdv. & Lec.) Zabulon Skipper H- occurrence doubtful

4068: Quasimellana eulogius (Plotz) Eulogius Skipper O

4069: Quasimellana mexicana (Bell) Mexican Mellana H- no authenticated records

4078: Euphyes vestris metacomet (Harris) Dun Skipper C- in appropriate habitat, wet areas

4103: Amblyscirtes nysa Edw. Nysa Roadside Skipper U

4106: Amblyscirtes celia Skinner Celia's Roadside Skipper A

4111: Lerodea eufala (Edw.) Eufala Skipper C

4113: Lerodea dysaules Godm. R

4115: Calpodes ethlius (Stoll) Brazilian Skipper U - probably much more common in city suburban gardens, where it is a pest.

4110: Panoquina panoquinoides (Skinner) Obscure Skipper U- common on coastal mud flats, but recently taken at Penitas.

4119: Panoquina ocola (Edw.) Ocola Skipper C- occurs in the fall 

4120: Panoquina hecebolus (Scud.) Hecebolus Skipper R

4121: Panoquina sylvicola (H-S) Sylvicola Skipper U- sporadic flies with Ocola Skipper

4122: Panoquina evansi. Freeman Evans' Skipper R

4123: Nyctelius nyctelius (Latr.) Nyctelius Skipper U - taken at Madero 1996

4124: Thespieus macareus (H-S) Variegated Skipper X


Family MEGATHYMIDAE - Giant Skippers

This small family includes the Giant Skippers, which are thought by some Lepidopterists to be the most primitive butterflies. The adults are large (up to 10 cm. in wingspan), and have heavy bodies. Our species are mainly dark brown with yellow and white patches and spots. The larvae bore into the leaves and roots of Yucca, Agave, and related plants. One species, found only in Mexico, infests the giant Blue Agave, from which Tequila and Mescal is made and its larva is the worm often seen in bottles of Mescal.

4146: Megathymus coloradensis wilsonorum Stall. & Turn. Wilson's Giant Skipper H- has not been seen recently, probably not in Santa Ana

4152: Stallingsia maculosa (Freeman) Manfreda Giant Skipper H - All known colonies extirpated, should be looked for around remaining stands of host plant, Manfreda spp.


Family PAPILIONIDAE - Swallowtail Butterflies

This family includes the well-known Swallowtail Butterflies, although not all species possess tails. The species in the genus Battus are protected by poisonous alkaloids derived from the larval foodplants and thus are avoided by birds. Some nonpoisonous species resemble them (especially females) and so derive a measure of protection for themselves. This is an example of mimicry, which is found in many other families of butterflies and moths

4156: Parades eurimedes mylotes (Bates) Cattle Heart H- no authenticated records to my knowledge.

4157: Battus philenor (L) Pipevine Swallowtail C

4158: Battus polydamas (L) Polydamas Swallowtail R- probably more common in suburban gardens

4159: Papilio polyxenes asterius Stoll Black Swallowtail C- disturbed

4169: Heraclides thoas autocles (Rotchs. & Jord.) Thoas Swallowtail R

4170: Heraclides cresphontes (Cramer) Giant Swallowtail/Orange Dog A

4173: Heraclides astyalus pastas (G.R.Gray) Lycophron Swallowtail R- not seen recently

4174: Heraclides ornythion (Boisd.) Ornythion Swallowtail R

4174.1 Heraclides pharnaces (Dbldy) Pharnaces Swallowtail H- one recent record in valley

4183: Heraclides anchisiades idaeus F. Ruby Spotted Swallowtail R

4180: Pterourus pilumnus Bdv. Three Tailed Swallowtail H- recent sightings, unauthenticated.

4180.1 Pterourus victorinus (Dbldy) Victorine Swallowtail H- recent record from Laredo

4180.2: Pterourus garamas (Hbn.) Black Giant Swallowtail H- single record from mid 1960's, Cameron Co.

4185: Eurytides philolaus (Bdv.) Dark Zebra-Swallowtail H- several records from Cameron Co.


Family Pieridae - Whites and Sulphurs

Butterflies in this family are commonly called "Whites" or "Sulphurs", and one common European species probably gave rise to the word "butter­fly". They include some of the most commonly observed butterflies in Santa Ana. Many (Phoebis, Kricogonia, Eurema) are migratory and may appear in huge numbers. As well as being attracted to flowers, many species also congregate at mud puddles. 

4186: Enantia albania (Bates) Mimic Sulphur X

4190: Appias drusilla (Cram.) Tropical White R

4193: Pontia protodice (Bdv. & Lec.) Checkered White A- esp. spring

4195: Pieris rapae L. Cabbage White R- probably mostly around cabbage fields.

4198: Ascia monuste (L) Great Southern White C- abundant in 1997 Brownsville to Beaumont along coast.

4199: Ganyra josephina (Godt.) Giant White 0

4207: Paramidea midea (Hbn.) 0- early spring only

4210: Colias eurytheme Bdv. Alfalfa Butterfly C

4224: Zerene cesonia (Stoll) Dog Face C

4226­: Anteos clorinde nivifera Fruh. White Angled Sulphur 0

4227: Anteos maerula lacordairei (Bdv.) Yellow Brimstone 0

4228: Phoebis sennae eubule (L) Cloudless Sulphur (Eastern Race) 0- especially along coast

4228: Phoebis sennae marcellina (Cram) Cloudless Sulphur (Mexican Race) A 

4229: Phoebis philea Johan. Orange-Barred Sulphur 0

4230: Phoebis argante (F) Argante Giant Sulphur H- has been reported recently, but possibly in error

4231: Phoebis agarithe maxima (ileum.) Orange Giant Sulphur C

4232: Phoebis neocypris bracteolata (Butt.) Tailed Giant Sulphur H- no recent records

4233: Aphrissa statira jada (Butl.) Statira 0

4235: Kricogonia lyside (Godt.) Lyside A

4236: Eurema proterpia (F) Tailed Orange 0

4237: Eurema lisa Bdv.& Lec. Little Yellow C

4238: Eurema nise (Cram.) Mimosa Yellow C

4240: Eurema dine westwoodi (Bdv.) Westwood's Yellow X

4241.1: Eurema albula (Cram) Small White H- recorded in Starr Co., 1993 

4242: Eurema nicippe (Cram.) Sleepy Orange A- has become more common recently

4243: Eurema daira lydia (C&R Feld.) Barred Yellow R

4245: Eurema boisduvaliana C&R Feld. Boisduval's Yellow 0

4246: Eurema mexicana (Bdv.) Mexican Yellow C

4247: Eurema salome limoneum (C&R Feld.) Salome X- no recent records 

4248: Nathalis iole Bdv. Dwarf Yellow A


Family LYCAENIDAE - Hairstreaks, Blues & Coppers

This family includes mainly small butterflies, some of which have small hairlike tails on the hindwings (Hairstreaks). These butterflies often have a rapid erratic flight, but are usually attracted to flowers. Many species are predominantly blue above and several species in Santa Ana are bright green on the underside. Ants attend the caterpillars of some species.

4269: Eumaeus toxea (Godt.) Cycad Butterfly H- no recent records

4270: Atlides halesus (Cram) Great Blue Hairstreak 0

4272: Chlorostrymon telea (Hew.) Telea Hairstreak H- no recent records

4273: Chlorostrymon simaethis sarita (Skin.) Sliver-Banded Hairstreak 0- formerly fairly common in some years, still present in Audubon Palm Grove, Cameron Co.

4289: Ocaria ocrisia (Hew.) Black Hairstreak X- recorded once from Santa Ana Refuge in 1968

4290: Ministrymon clytie (Edw.) Clytie Hairstreak U

4293: Ministrymon azia (Hew.) Azia Hairstreak R- not seen recently

4292: Tmolus echion echiolus (Draudt) Large Lantana Butterfly/Echion Hairstreak X- no recent records

4292.1: Siderus tephraeus (Geyer) Tephraeus Hairstreak X- last recorded from Penitas 1995

4294: Oenomaus ortygnus (Cram.) Aquamarine Hairstreak X- no recent records

4295: Rekoa marius (Lucas) Marius Hairstreak R- few recent records, has been reared

4297: Rekoa palegon (Stoll) Palegon Hairstreak X- no recent records

4298: Allosmaitia strophius (Godt.) Blue-Metal Hairstreak R- several recent records

4300: Calycopis isobeon (Butl. & Druce) Dusky Blue Hairstreak C

4308: Cyanophrys miserabilis (Clench) Miserabilis Hairstreak R- not seen recently

4308.1: Cyanophrys herodotus (F) Tropical Green Hairstreak X

4309: Cyanophrys goodsoni (Clench) Goodson's Hairstreak R- recorded from Bentsen SP, 1995

4320: Xamia xami (Reak.) Xami Hairstreak R

4330: Arawacus jada (HM Jada Hairstreak H- no recent records from Texas 

4335: Parrhasius m-album (Bdv.& Lec.) White M- Hairstreak H- has been taken a few times in area, stray from Oak Belt

4336: Strymon melinus franki Field Gray Hairstreak A- most common Hairstreak

4338: Strymon rufofusca (Hew.) Reddish Hairstreak R- more common in Starr Co. 

4339: Strymon bebrycia (Hew.) Mexican Gray Hairstreak R

4341: Strymon yojoa (Reak.) Yojoa Hairstreak R- few recent records

4342: Strymon albata sedecia (Hew.) White Hairstreak R

4344: Strymon alea (God.& Salv.) Lacey's Hairstreak R

4345: Strymon columella istapa (Reak) Columella Hairstreak C

4347: Strymon cestri (Reak.) Cestri Hairstreak X

4348: Strymon bazochii (Godt.) Small Lantana Hairstreak

4351: Electrostrymon endymion cyphara (HEM Ruddy Hairstreak R- not seen recently

4351.1: E1ectrostrymon canus (Druce) Muted Hairstreak X


4353: Brephidium exile (Bdv.) Pygmy Blue A

4355: Zizula cyna (Edw.) Cyna Blue R

4356: Leptotes cassias striata (Edw.) Cassius Blue R- has declined state-wide

4357: Leptotes marina (Reak.) Marine Blue C- increasing

4359: Hemiargus ceraunus zachaeina (Butl.& Druce) Ceraunus Blue C

4350: Hemiargus isola alce (WH Edw.) Reakirt's Blue A

4361: Everes comyntas texanus (Cher.) Tailed Blue R


Family RIODINIDAE - Metalmarks

These butterflies are generally called "Metalmarks", although less than half of the species have metallic markings. Most species are small, but there is great variety of colors and patterns, especially in the American tropics. They are much like the proceeding family in habits, but characteristically perch with the wings open.

4388: Calephelis nemesis australis (WH Edw.) Fatal Metalmark A

4389: Calephelis nilus perditalis B&McD Lost Metalmark A

4392: Calephelis rawsoni McAlp. Rawson's Metalmark H- I have not seen this from Rio Grande Valley

4396: Caria ino melicerta Schaus Red Bordered Metalmark C

4397: Lasaia sula peninsularis Clench Blue Metalmark R- more common in Cameron Co. 

4398: Melanis pixe (Bdv.) Pixie R

4401: Emesis emesia (Hew.) Falcate Metalmark R- few recent records

4401.1: Emesis tenedia (Feld.) Tenedia Metalmark R- was thriving at several localities in Starr Co., 1992-1995

4403: Apodemia multiplaga Schaus Narrow Winged Metalmark X

4406: Apodemia walkeri God.& Saly. Walker's Metalmark R


Family LIBYTHEIDAE - Snout Butterflies

Known as "Snout Butterflies" because of their long beaklike palps, this is a small family of very similar butterflies. The three species occurring in south Texas are difficult to tell apart, but only one species occurs with any regularity. It may, at times, become extremely abundant, defoliating its foodplant, Hackberry.

4411: Libytheana carinenta larvata (Stkr.) Southern Snout Butterfly A

4411: Libytheana carinenta mexicana Mich. Tropical Snout Butterfly X

4411: Libytheana carinenta motya (Hbn.) Cuban Snout Butterfly H


Family HELICONIDAE - Longwing Butterflies


4413: Agraulis vanillae incarnata (Riley) Gulf Fritillary A

4414: Dione moneta poeyi (Butl.) Mexican Silverspot R

4415: Dryadula phaetusa (L) Banded Orange H- few recent records northward 

4415.1: Philaethria dido (Click.) Bamboo Page H- fairly recent sighting

4416: Dryas iulia moderata Riley Julia U

4417: Eueides isabella zorcaon Reak. Isabella Tiger R- few recent records 

4418: Heliconius charitonius vasquezae WP Comst. Zebra R- has declined

4419: Heliconius erato petiveranus Dbldy. Crimson Patched Longwing X


Family NYMPHALIDAE - Brushfooted Butterflies

This is the largest family of true butterflies represented in Santa Ana. As a group, they are often referred to as "brush-footed" butterflies because both males and females have the fore legs reduced and thus have only 4 legs for walking. The species are quite diverse, varying from small to large and variable in pattern, though most species are predominantly brown or orange in color. The caterpillars are usually ornamented with spines.

4420: Polygonia interrogationis (F) Question Mark C

4432: Nymphalis antiopa (L) Mourning Cloak H- rare in area

4434: Vanessa virginiensis (Drury) American Painted Lady C

4435: Vanessa cardui (L) Painted Lady C

4437: Vanessa atalanta rubric (Fruh.) Red Admiral A

4438: Hypanartia lethe (F) Orange Map Wing H- no recent records 

4440: Junonia coenia (Hbn.) Buckeye C

4441: Junonia coenia nigrosuffusa B&McD Dark Buckeye C

4441.1: Junonia genoveva zonalis C&R Feld. Tropical Buckeye R- most known specimens are from Santa Ana Refuge, it typically has an iridescent patch on the hindwing.

4442: Junonia evarete (Cram) Mangrove Buckeye 0- along coast

4443: Anartia jatrophae luteipicta Fruh. White Peacock C

4445: Anartia fatima (F) Fatima R

4446: Siproeta stelenes biplagiata (Fruh.) Malachite 0- formerly common at times

4447: Euptoieta claudia (Cram.) Variegated Fritillary A

4448: Euptoieta hegesia hoffmanni WP Comst. Mexican Fritillary 0- has been fairly common in Starr Co., 1993-1996.

4476: Anthanassa texana (Edw.) Texas Crescent C

4477: Anthanassa ptolyca (Bates) False Black Crescent X

4478: Anthanassa tulcis (Bates) Tulcis Crescent R- formerly uncommon

4478.1: Anthanassa argentea (God.& Salv.) Argentia Crescent H- in Penitas area 1993-1994

4480: Phyciodes phaon (Edw.) Phaon Crescent C- wet areas

4481: Phyciodes tharos (Drury) Pearl crescent C

4485: Phyciodes vesta (Edw.) Vesta Crescent C-dry areas

4488.1: Tegosa anieta luka Higgins Orange Crescent H- I do not know source of record

4499: Chlosyne lacinia ajutrix Scud. Bordered Patch C  

4500: Chlosyne definite (Aaron) Definite Patch R- no recent records from valley

4501: Chlosyne endeis (God.& Salv.) Endeis Patch R- no recent records, last seen in early 1970's

4501.1: Chlosyne marina (Hbn) Checkered or Yellow Patch H- no recent records

4502: Chlosyne erodyle (Bates) Erodyle Patch H- no authentic records 

4503: Chlosyne janais (Drury) Janais Patch R

4504: Chlosyne rosita browni Bauer Rosita Patch R- once well established in Santa Ana Refuge, no recent records.  

4504.1: Chlosyne ehrenbergi (Gey.) Striped Patch H- no authenticated records

4508: Thessalia theona bollii (WH Edw.) Theona Checkerspot U- more common to the NW of area

4510: Microtia elva Bates Elf X- no recent records

4513: Texola elada ulrica (WH Edw.) Elada Checkerspot C- abundant to the west of area

4511: Dymasia dymas (Edw) Dymas Checkerspot H- occurs mainly west of Hidalgo Co.

4522: Basilarchia arthemis astyanax (F.) Red Spotted Purple R- no recent records from valley

4523: Basilarchia archippus watsoni dosP. Watson's Viceroy R

4524: Basilarchia archippus hoffmanni Mexican Viceroy X- one recent record

4525: Adelpha bredowii eulalia (Obldy & Hew.) Arizona Sister H- may appear mainly to NW of area

4526: Adelpha fessonia (Hew.) Mexican Sister R

4526.1: Adelpha basiloides (Bates) Tropical Sister H - do not know source of record

4527.1: Epiphile adrasta Hew. Dimorphic Bark-Wing R- few recent records, photographed in Santa Ana Refuge.  

4528: Myscelia ethusa (Bdv.) Blue Wing U

4529: Myscelia cyanathe skinneri Meng. Skinner's Blue Wing H- no recent records

4532: Eunica monima (Stoll) Dingy Purple Wing R- occasionally migrates to area in numbers.

4533: Eunica tatila (H-S) Purple Wing R- one recent record-Madero

4534: Dynamine dyonis Gey. Blue-Eyed Greenwing R- has been more common in past

4536: Diaethria asteria (Godm.& Saly) Mexican 88 H- no recent records

4537: Mestra amymone (Men.) Amymone C

4539: Biblis hyperia aganisa Bdv. Red Rim R

4540.1: Hamadryas guatemalena marmarice (Fruh) Central American Cracker X

4540.2: Hamadryas iphthime joannae Jenk. Ringless Blue Cracker X

4541: Hamadryas feronia farinulenta (Fruh) Blue Cracker X

4542: Hamadryas februa ferentina (Godt.) Gray Cracker 0

4544: Hamadryas amphinome mexicana (Luc,) Red Cracker X- possible recent sighting Bentsen

4545: Historis odius (F) Stinky Leaf Wing H- no recent records

4546: Historis acheronta cadmus (Cram.) Dash Wing H- no recent records from valley

4547: Smyrna karwinskii Gey. Karwinski's Beauty X.- recent record from Jackson Co.

4547.1: Smyrna blomfildia datis Fruh. Blomfild's Beauty X

4548: Marpesia zerynthia Hbn. Waiter X

4549: Marpesia chiron (F.) Many-Banded Dagger Wing R

4550: Marpesia petreus (Cram.) Ruddy Dagger Wing R

Family APATURIDAE - Leaf-wings or Hackberry Butterflies

Considered by some Lepidopterists to be a subfamily of the Nymphalidae, apaturids are commonly called Leaf-wings or Hackberry Butterflies. As the name suggests the leaf-wings closely resemble dead leaves on the underside. Hackberry butterflies are highly territorial and will not infrequently "attack" people by alighting on them.

4552: Anaea aidea (Guer.-Men.) Tropical Leaf-Wing C

4554: Anaea andria Scud. Goatweed Butterfly C

4555: Memphis glycerium (Dbldy) Angled Leaf Wing X

4556:  Memphis pithyusa (R.Feld.) Blue Leaf Wing R

4556.1: Memphis echemus (Dbldy & Hew.) Chestnut Leaf Wing H-one record Victoria, TX

4558: Asterocampa celtis antonia (Edw.) Empress Antonia C

4561: Asterocampa leilia (Edw.) Empress Leilia C

4565: Asterocampa clyton louisa Stall.& Turn Empress Louisa A

4566: Doxocopa pavon (Latr.) Pavon R

4567: Doxocopa laure (Drury) Laure R


Family Morphidae- Morpho Butterflies


4567.1: Morpha peleides hyacinthus Butl. Common Morpho H- single sight record 1945


Family SATYRIDAE - Satyrs & Browns

Members of this family are dark, woodland or tundra butterflies, often with eyespots on the wings. Few species occur in south Texas. Although there are many tropical species in northern Mexico, none of these have been found in south Texas, perhaps due to the fact that they are non-migratory.

4573: Cyllopsis gemma freemani (S&T) Gemmed Satyr C

4574: Hermeuptychia hermes (F) Hemes Satyr A


Family DANAIDAE - Milkweed Butterflies

The few species that occur in North America are often called "Milkweed" butterflies, as they all feed on plants in the milkweed family. This gives a chemical protection to both the larvae and adults. Consequently other butterflies often mimic them. The Monarch is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies, but it was not until recently that the wintering grounds of the east and central populations was discovered, in the Sierra Madre of Mexico. Monarchs are most often seen in Santa Ana during late fall.

4614: Danaus plexippus (L) Monarch C- seasonal

4615: Danaus gilippus strigosus (Bates) Queen A

4516: Danaus eresimus montezuma Talb. Soldier U

4517: Lycorea cleobaea atergatis (Dbldy) Large Tiger H


Family ITHOMIIDAE - Clearwing Butterflies

No species in this family has been recorded from south Texas for about 80 years, but it is possible that they were established here then and extirpated by the unusually cold winters that occurred around the turn of the century. Many species have largely clear or translucent wings and otherwise resemble Heliconius species (Longwings).

4517.1: Dircenna klugii (Gey) Klug's Dircenna H

4517.2: Greta polissena umbrana (Haensch) Polis Transparent H





  It has been 10 years since my list was last updated and during most of that time I have not personally conducted research at Santa Ana Refuge. I have, however collected actively in the lower Rio Grande Valley at other localities including: Audubon Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Bentsen State Park, Falcon State Park, and at other localities near Boca Chico, Reylampago, Mission, Madero, Penitas, Roma, Fronton, Salineno, and Edinburg. With a few exceptions, there have been fewer butterflies evident during this past decade than the two decades preceding it.


  The explanation for this is unclear, but probably related to two main factors; 1. The prolonged draught and 2. continuing spread of introduced plants, especially Guinea Grass, which has displaced the native understory, vegetation, thus eliminating larval host plants and nectar sources for many species. Conditions in Mexico, across the river, may also play a significant role, but, of this, I have no direct knowledge.

  In spite of this general decline in numbers, the checklist has grown, by addition of recently collected species, or discovery of previously unknown, older records.


The following species (or subspecies) have been added:


Polygonus manueli - Neck, 1996

Urbanus bells - Lep. Soc. News. 1997

Dyscophellus euribates - Neck, 1996

Pellicia angra - Neck 1996

Gesta gesta invisius - recent records, Cameron Co.

Erynnis tristis tatius - Neck 1996

Panoquina panoquinoides - recent records

Heraclides pharnaces - recent records

Pterourus garamas - Older record recently discovered

Eurema albula - recent record

Siderus tephraeus - recent records

Arawacus jada - overlooked, but hypothetical

Electrostrymon canus - recently separated from another species

Emesis tenedia - recent records

Philaethria dido - recent sighting-hypothetical

Junonia genoveva zonalis - group revised

Anthanassa argentea - recent records

Tegosa anieta luka - Neck 1996

Chlosyne erodyle - Neck, 1996

Dymasia dymas - recent records

Basilarchia archippus hoffmanni - recent records

Adelpha basiloides - Neck, 1996

Historis odius - Neck; 1996

Morpha peleides - old sight record


(NOTE: Neck, 1996 refers to Field Guide to the Butterflies of Texas, R.A. Neck, et al. Gulf Pbl., Houston 1996. I do not have access to the records upon which statements in this book were based. None are confirmed as having occurred at Santa Ana Refuge)


The following species have been deleted:


Pseudolycaena - erroneous record

Lasaia parses - misidentification

Hypolimnas misippus - erroneous record

The following changes in scientific nomenclature are as follows:

Phocides palemon becomes Phocides polybius

Polygonus leo arizonensis becomes Polygonus leo histrio

Gorgythion begga becomes Gorgythion vox

Achlyodes thraso becomes Achlyodes mithridates

Pho1sora alpheus becomes Hesperopsis alpheus

Mellana becomes Quasimellana

Euphyes ruricola returns to Euphyes vestris

Priamedes anchisiades becomes Heraclides anchisiades

Papilio victorinus becomes Pterourus victorinus

Enantia melite becomes Enantia albania

Artogeia rapae returns to Pieris rapae

Falcapica midea becomes Paramidea midea

Tmolus azia becomes Ministrymon azia

Thereus zebina and spurina both become Rekoa marius

Thereus palegon becomes Rekoa palegon

Allosmaita pion becomes Allosmaitia strophius

Calephelis perditalis becomes Calephelis nilus perditalis

Libytheana bachmanii larvata becomes Libytheana carinenta larvata

Libytheana motya becomes a subspecies of carinenta also

Junonia nigrosuffusa becomes Junonia coenia nigrosuffusa

Eresia frisia tulcis becomes Anthanassa tulcis

Chlosyne melitaeoides becomes Chlosyne marina (or erodyle, depending on your viewpoint.)

Marpesia coresia becomes Marpesia zerynthia

There is still great confusion and controversy especially in genera such as Junonia, Anthanassa, and Chlosyne of the Nymphalidae. Higher classification is also unstable. Many authors prefer to separate the Charaxinae and Asterocampinae as separate families from Nymphalidae, while others lump nearly everything: Libytheids, Satyrids, and Morphids into the Nymphalidae.


A butterfly conservation plan should be adopted for refuges in the lower Rio Grande Valley and in other critical habitat areas. Butterflies need three things to prosper. Food for larva, food and water for adults, and shelter. Such a plan might include planting of appropriate food and nectar plants, ponds, and hedgerows. Certain areas known to contain colonies of critical species might be irrigated, when necessary. Resacas need to be filled periodically to replenish colonies in these areas.


Guinea Grass is a serious problem not only for butterflies, but for native plants as well. It has become so pervasive that only a biological control method is likely to make an impact. Unfortunately, it will be extremely difficult to select a control agent that does not have the potential of harming native (or introduced) forage grasses, or lawns. Selective herbicide applications followed by hand removal by volunteers, followed by planting or seeding desirable species, might be tried in limited areas.


Both professional and amateur Lepidopterists should be encouraged to participate. Collecting, except for commercial purposes, should not be generally prohibited outside the conservation area and periodic survey work, including limited collecting may also be necessary within the conservation area, in order to provide proper monitoring. Indeed it will require the participation of experienced amateur Lepidop­terists, in most cases, to survey, identify, and delineate, such conservation areas within the Refuges, where human intervention can have some beneficial impact.




This checklist is based mainly on collection data accumulated by the compiler, from researchers who have studied the Lepidoptera in Santa Ana and adjacent areas (Hidalgo and Cameron counties). Additional records have been obtained from the literature and a few from museum specimens. In the moths, the greatest body of data was obtained from Andre Blanchard, who made frequent visits to the area between 1960 and 1979. The compiler has continued investigations of the moths of Santa Ana from 1979 to the present. Few other moth records (outside of the literature) have been made available to date.


In the butterflies, many researchers and collectors have worked in Santa Ana and adjacent areas and the compiler had depended upon much in the way of personal observations from his colleagues. H.A. Freeman collected in the area in the 1940's and some of the records reported by him have not been repeated. R.O. and C.A. Kendall have done much work in the Santa Ana vicinity, particularly in life history studies of both butterflies and moths. Others who have provided much information, mainly on butterflies include: J.F. Doyle III, F.R. Hedges, W.W. McGuire, R.W. Neck, M.A. Rickard, and J.B. Vernon. A significant contribution was also made by the Southern Lepidopterists' Society at the 1984 annual meeting, which was held in Bentsen Rio-Grande Valley State Park.

14 Dec 2004 Mike Quinn / entomike@gmail.comTexas Entomology