Critters were being using round bites out of the green leaves of our black walnut tree. We inspected the leaves and discovered the very small caterpillars of a hairstreak butterfly.

We realized they weren’t walnut caterpillars for the reason that individuals rapacious critters would have been chomping down complete leaves at a time.

In the meantime, hairstreaks emerged from their chrysalises and commenced sipping nectar on our garden’s flowering crops. The really and dainty very little butterflies are basically an inch extensive. Their grayish-brown wings are coursed in dark, wavy bands edged in white and accented near the tail by iridescent blue patches together with dazzling reddish patches.

Hairstreaks have a intelligent deception to prevent becoming foodstuff for a chook. The hind end of the wings appears practically identical to the head at the front conclusion — and it even twitches like a butterfly’s head and antennae. When a chicken grabs the tail mistaking it for the head, it only gets its beak stuffed with wispy pieces of indigestible wing.

The caterpillars are fairly harmless mainly because they generally generate just one brood per year. And if a tree will have to serve up a couple of leaves to nourish a couple of caterpillars that develop a number of pretty butterflies, it is a truthful trade.

Backyard vegetation include things like parsley and dill for black swallowtail senna for cloudless sulphur passionvine for gulf fritillary.

Trees involve citrus for big swallowtail oaks for Juvenal’s duskywing black cherry for red-spotted purple.

Shrubs incorporate sassafras for tiger swallowtail spicebush for spicebush swallowtail crimson bay for Palamedes swallowtail.

Very best identification reserve: “Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas,” by John and Gloria Tveten (University of Texas Press, $24.95)


This is an excellent time to enjoy butterflies. A number of species will be hatching from their pupae in the coming times, if not already. That’s mainly because our close to-weekly rains have nourished greenery, and greenery nourishes new generations of butterflies.

Aside from, Houston’s semi-tropical warm weather from March to November positive aspects the emergence of ethereal and wondrously coloured butterflies. They will not dwell very long. Only a couple of weeks for most. But their quick presence is no fewer a joyful present for us.

Look at the stunning swallowtail butterflies named for their lookalike tails that are just twin protrusions from the hindwings. The big swallowtail is the largest if not the most eye-catching of the seven species of swallowtails all over Houston.

The huge swallowtail flies in a seemingly lazy, bounding flight at practically 6 inches throughout with arrestingly hued black wings set off by distinguished yellow bands. Watch for this strikingly coloured butterfly feeding on penta or lantana.

Or look at for pipevine swallowtails with obsidian-toned wings and a veneer of blue sheen across the top rated of the hind wings. They’ll demonstrate up in all habitats, which include yard gardens and open up fields.

Gary Clark is the writer of “Book of Texas Birds,” with photography by Kathy Adams Clark (Texas A&M University Press). Email him at [email protected]