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Asterocampa celtis is known for being a quick, unpredictable butterfly. It is often found along water sources and lowlands, although it lives in a broad range of habitats. *A notable characteristic is that it rarely is spotted visiting a flowers, which is an unusual for a butterfly habit. (they do not pollinate flowers when they feed from them.) This species is more accurately described as parasitizing their hosts and food plant sources since they extract nutrients, and do not provide any benefits to the host.
They lives in cities, forests, and wooded areas, and prefer areas near rivers or other bodies of water. The species is not deterred by human development. Furthermore, they may be seen near woodland edges, near creeks, around buildings, and around damp, muddy areas.
Adults exhibit sexual dimorphism.
Males have smaller, darker bodies and more slender wings than females. Both males and females are light brown with a row of black or white dots near the far edge of their wings. White spots near the front of the wing help distinguish it from a similar butterfly, the Tawny Emperor.
Male searching behavior in most butterflies generally falls into two types:
One is to actively patrol an area for females. Patrollers are attracted to still objects that resemble a mate.
The other strategy is to perch. Perchers typically spend only part of the day actively looking for a mate. They sit perched upon a branch waiting for a female to fly by. When a male sees movement nearby it will quickly fly out to attempt to mate, but stay within a limited habitat.
Asterocampa celtis exhibit perching behavior. The male rests on rocks, trees, or fallen branches often along streams from the afternoon until around sundown.
Adults lay two broods per year.
This production of multiple generations within one year insures that all life stages may be present at one time within a single site or host tree.
Hackberry Emperor wings are geographically variable. Both dark forms and light forms are found within a given area.. The dorsal side forewing is usually gray brown (dark form) near the base, fading to orange brown toward the center of the wing, and black near the tip. On the pale form the base color is brown yellow. The central area of the forewing (cell) has a single black bar and two separated black spots. There is a single submarginal eyespot with a black pupil surrounded by orange. The pupil may have a small blue center. In the black area near the tip there is a jagged row of seven cream colored subapical spots and a jagged row of four white submarginal spots.
The hindwing is orangish brown. The basal portion of the hindwing is covered with long hairs. The margin is orangish with dark veins and a straight black border. There is a submarginal row of black chevrons and a postmedial band of black spots. The postmedial spots may have small blue centers.
The ventral side of both wings is light brown and gray. The black spots from the dorsal side become yellow ringed black eyespots with white centers on the ventral side.
Predators are species like birds and mammals, such as bears and raccoons, who will eat larvae that lie along the forest floor. The stink bug is also a very common predator of hackberry emperor eggs.
Diet: caterpillars feed on the leaves and leaf buds of hackberry trees.
Diet: adults eat hackberry sap, feces, dead animals including decaying pigs, snakes, and dogs, and old fruit. They also sip from water in puddles and are known to land on humans to lick their sweat to gain sodium.
Wingspan: 4.4 - 5.7 cm / 1.75 to 2.25"
The single biggest threat to butterfly survival is habitat destruction!!
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