Texan Crescent, Anthanassa texana, is a common butterfly species in my garden and throughout a wide range of the tropics and a large part of the western to southern United States. This is a small pollinator, only about 1 to 1.5 inches across with wings spread wide. A rapid flyer, fortunately these gregarious butterflies rest frequently and I spot them sunning on all sorts of foliage in my garden. They’re very good about posing for photos.
While not an eye-poppingly beautiful member of the Lepidoptera bunch, the muted coloration provides good camouflage, especially in shady gardens and I think this little butterfly is quite pretty. Brown, rust and cream comprise the primary color scheme, but in such a fetching pattern of those colors. Look at the sheen of blue in the eyes,
…and along the thorax as this guy or gal, moves around the oregano bloom, modeling all sides of its fashionable summer wear.
Texan Crescents hang out in open, dry areas and are common in urban settings. Adults nectar on a many different flowers. I routinely see them nectaring on the florets of oregano,
…Zexmenia, Wedelia acapulcensis var. hispida
Texan Crescents have always been part of the insect mix of my garden, but this summer, I’ve noticed more than usual. There was quite a bit of rain in late spring/early summer, but if that was the reason for a population boom, surely I’d see more of other butterflies too and that hasn’t necessarily been the case. The host plants for this butterfly are plants of the Acanthaceae family. I grow several perennials from this moderate-sized group: Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus wrightii quadrifidus, as well as several Ruellia species–a true native and a couple of cultivars. Additionally, a new plant has made itself quite at home in my garden–the native Branched Foldwing, Dicliptera brachiata,
…also a member of the Acanthus family and one that I recently identified; you can read about that here. The Branched Foldwing is the only new plant in my garden that might host the Texan Crescent and I think it’s this garden surprise that is helping to gift more of these cuties to my garden and the surrounding areas. I have found eaten and damaged leaves on the three Branched Foldwings that I’ve located,
…and more damage on the Foldwings than on any other of the Acanthaceae plants. Though I haven’t yet spotted eggs or larvae on the plants, my suspicion is that the Branched Foldwing are to thank for the larger numbers of Texan Crescents.
Regardless of where their botanical nursery is located, I’m glad to host these little butterflies in my garden–may Texan Crescents always flutter!
Check out the The Transmutational Garden to learn more about butterflies and their importance in a healthy and diverse garden.