Sleepy Orange

Sleepy Orange

Eurema nicippe

The Sleepy Orange is more yellow than orange and isn’t lazy from what I can tell. Some think it got its name from the small black marks on the upperside of its forewing. Apparently, some folks think it looks like a closed eye.

You’ll find this active flyer all over Texas. It’s markings can change a bit, especially from winter to summer. It tends to always have that brown mark at the top edge of its hind wing.

While most of the pics below show it sitting with much of the forewing showing, it will often sit with much of forewing concealed beneath the hindwing.

It doesn’t seem to be overly picky when it comes to nectaring on flowers. I’ve had it feed on any number of plants in my garden.

Soapberry Hairstreak

Soapberry Hairstreak

Phaeostrymon alcestis

The guidebooks show the Soapberry Hairstreak’s range to extend almost everywhere in Texas with the exception of the far eastern and southern parts of the state. Still, I have only encountered this butterfly once in all my years of looking for butterflies. For one week in May of 2016, I saw several across the various parks of San Angelo, Texas.

Apparently, they stay close to their food plant, the soapberry tree (sapindus saponaria) which may explain why I have seen so few of them. Its season is also a short one, with a single brood flying April to June.

The Soapberry stands out from other hairstreaks because of the strong white cell-end bars on both the fore and hindwing. The VW mark on the hindwing is also unique to this species.

It’s a handsome butterfly. I hope to see it again someday.

Acton Nature Center

Wherever I travel, I’m on the lookout for well cared for butterfly gardens. My wife’s family has historical ties to the Granbury area. Fortunately for me, one of the best butterfly gardens in the state can be found in nearby Acton, TX.

The Acton Nature Center of Hood County has several miles of trails that include prairie, woods, and pond habitats. The Elizabeth Crockett Memorial Butterfly Garden is a true gem, as is the bird blind. Yes, the butterfly garden is named after Davey Crockett’s wife! You can’t get much more than that!

This park is well cared for and worth the trip if you are in the area. I’ve seen numerous butterflies, birds, and rattlesnakes! If you’re anywhere near Granbury, you should stop by.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Agraulis vanillae

Don’t let the name fool you. You can see this beautiful butterfly all across Texas, not simply along the Gulf coast. While the females can be almost burnt orange at times, usually both males and females are a bright orange.

The patterns on the underside of the wings are what makes this butterfly stand out from the rest. Elongated silver cell spots dazzle when they catch the sun just right.

I’ve found Gulf Fritillaries feeding on lantana, zenia, butterfly bush, and more. Its larva feed on passion vines.

Phaon Crescent

Phaon Crescent

Phyciodes phaon

The Phaon Crescent can be found everywhere in Texas except the panhandle.

Its distinguishing feature is a cream band on the upper forewing which helps set it apart from the similar sized Pearl Crescent. In West Texas, the cream bands make it difficult to distinguish from the Painted Crescent, though the undersides of the wings are quite different for the two species.

In the Houston area, I find the Phaon Crescent in fields, near marshes, and in prairie reclamation areas. It feeds upon small flowers like frogruit blossoms.

Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes

This swallowtail calls the entire state home. The males have two bands of yellow on the upper wing. The upper yellow band is absent on the females making them look more like a Pipevine Swallowtail.

On the underside, two bands of orange cell spots help distinguish it from the Pipevine Swallowtail, which only has one.

In West Texas, Black Swallowtails frequented my plumbago. I have had less luck attracting them to my backyard in Houston, although I’ve had recently had some visit my parsley. In the hill country, I’ve often found black swallowtails feeding on thistles.

Similar species: Pipevine Swallowtail; Spicebush Swalowtail

Long-tailed Skipper

Long-tailed Skipper

Urbanus proteus

This long-tailed skipper is found east of the I-35 corridor up to about Dallas. It is a common visitor to my Houston area gardens.

As it skips around your garden, you will notice the iridescent green running along the topside of its body and spilling over into the base of the wings.

As you can see below, it feeds on a variety of flowers. I find it frequently on my Blue Salvia and Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).

It’s larva feed on legumes and can be considered a pest by those trying to grow beans.

It is similar to the less common Dorantes Longtail.

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated Fritillary

Euptoieta claudia

The Variegated Fritillary is a common sight when hiking throughout Texas. It prefers open habitat and can be found in prairies, brushland, and roadsides.

It often flies close to the ground and will light upon small flowers in the grass. It nectars on a variety of flowers and is a common sight among the spring wildflowers.

It’s only close lookalike is the Mexican Fritillary which is only found in south Texas.

Checkered White

Checkered White

Pontia protodice

There are only two whites that are common throughout most of Texas. One of those is the Checkered White which can be seen in every part of the state (the other is the Cabbage White). Though simple in appearance, its white wings stand out against brightly colored flowers.

The males are mostly white above and below with a few black markings on the forewing. The females have a greater number of black markings on the upperside of the fore and hindwings. Those markings form a pattern of white diamonds along the edge of the hindwing.

In my experience, Checkered Whites are a bit skittish and tend to be in flight more than settled upon a plant, although you can occasionally catch them feeding. As often as not, I have found them on the ground drawing water from moist dirt.

The larva feed on mustard plants.

Seabourne Creek Nature Park

Seabourne Creek Nature Park, 3831 TX-36 Rosenberg, TX 77471

Seabourne Creek Nature Park, located in Rosenberg, Texas just off of Highway 59, has become a favorite spot for me. It is an easy drive from Sugar Land and the rest of Southwest Houston.

It boasts 164 acres of trails for walking, jogging, and biking. There is a 4 acre lake that is stocked with fish. It is a popular spot for birders, walkers, and fisherman, but never feels overcrowded.

It has a butterfly garden near the parking lot and restroom area. This garden highlights native plants and is well kept. There are also some test gardens that are tended to by area master naturalists. These two garden areas are great spots for checking out butterflies.

You won’t want to limit yourself to the gardens since the whole park is great for spotting butterflies. With gardens, woodlands, prairie grasses, and wetlands, you are sure to see a great variety of butterflies.

At Seabourne Creek I’ve seen: American Ladies, American Snouts, Black Swallowtails, Checkered Whites , Clouded Skippers, Cloudless Sulphurs, Common Buckeyes, Common Checkered Skippers, Dainty Sulphurs, Dun Skippers, Dusky Blue Groundstreaks, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Fiery Skippers, Funereal Duskywings, Giant Swallowtails, Goatweed Leafwings, Gray Hairstreaks, Gulf Fritillaries, Least Skippers, Little Yellows, Long-Tailed Skippers, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreaks, Monarchs, Painted Ladies, Pearl Crescents, Phaon Crescents, Pipevine Swallowtails, Question Marks, Reakirt’s Blues, Red Admirals, Southern Broken-Dash Skippers, Southern Dogfaces, Variegated Fritillaries, Viceroys, and Whirlabouts…plus a few I’m probably forgetting.

You also see plenty of other things besides butterflies. Check out the gallery to see a few.