Tawny Emperor Butterfly
Asterocampa clyton (Boisduval & Leconte)
Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
Sub-family Emperors (Apaturinae)

The Tawny Emperor is geographically variable. The upperside is chestnut brown; forewing with 2 brown bars in the cell, no white spots, and no eyespots near the outer margin. The hindwing uppersides are orange with black submarginal spots in one form, and all black in the other form. Wing span is 1 5/8 - 2 3/4 inches.

Males perch on trees in full sun to watch for females. Eggs are laid in large groups of 200-500 on the bark or the underside of mature leaves of host plants. Caterpillars eat leaves and young ones feed gregariously. Third-stage caterpillars hibernate in groups of about 10 inside a dead curled leaf.

One brood in the north from June-August, two broods in the south from March-November.

The caterpillar host plants are trees of the elm family including Celtis occidentalis, C. tenuifolia, C. laevigata, C. lindheimeri, and C. reticulata. Adults feed on sap, rotting fruit, dung, and carrion. The Tawny Emperor almost never visit flowers. Its preferred habitat is dry woods, open woods, cities, fencerows, and parks.

Tawny Emperor, Internet Photo
Texas A&M Univ., aggi.horticulture.tamu.edu

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