The Rio Grande Valley's Nature Site

Turk's-cap White-Skipper - Heliopetes macaira Life Cycle Study

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I found this caterpillar in the yard on Heart-leaf Hibiscus - Hibiscus martianus on 6/20/2007.  I brought it inside to see what butterfly it would become.  20 days later, a Turk's-cap White-Skipper - Heliopetes macaira emerged.  I will continue to watch for this butterfly to lay an egg, so I can follow the full life cycle.  It would be most interesting to see the butterfly emerge from a closed nest.

All photos on this site are by Jan Dauphin and are copyright protected and may not be used or published elsewhere without the permission of Jan Dauphin

Heart-leaf Hibiscus - Hibiscus martianus is fairly common throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley and is one of several mallow species host plants for the Turk's-cap White-Skipper - Heliopetes macaira.


Turk's-cap White-Skipper - Heliopetes macaira caterpillar collected for rearing on 6-20-07.


Within a few days, the caterpillar gathered pieces of the green leaves and built a nest.  The leaves dried and the caterpillar never came out of the nest.  This photo was taken 9 days from caterpillar collection. 


The nest was opened, slightly, on the same day as the above photo (6/29/2007) in hopes of getting a photo of the caterpillar.  I was afraid I would damage the caterpillar, so I only opened the nest very slightly.


The re-closed nest was opened again two days later (7/1/2007) to reveal a pupa inside.


The re-closed nest was opened again two days later (7/1/2007) to reveal a pupa inside.


The Turk's-cap White-Skipper - Heliopetes macaira emerged on 7/10/2007, 20 days after collecting the caterpillar, and was released.