Mission, Texas is home to the North American Butterfly Association Butterfly Park. It’s a small park, but completely devoted to attracting butterflies. It has almost all native plantings, including both food and nectar plants for the butterflies.
We learned that the time of year to see the most butterflies is October. And November and December are when the rare species come. But even in January we saw butterflies – almost all of them new species for me.
Mission is so close to the Mexican border, that many of the butterflies and birds in the park are ones that are seen more often in Mexico than in the U.S.
Here’s a view of the main part of the park – with beds planted with butterfly-attracting plants.
Here are some of the butterflies.
Crimson Patch – Chlosyne janais
Dusky Blue Groundstreak – Calycopis isobeon
Carolina Satyr – Hermeuptychia sosybius (Thanks to Dave Hanson for the correct ID)
Gulf Fritillary – Agraulis vanillae
Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak – Strymon bazochii
Large Orange Sulphur – Phoebis agarithe
Laviana White Skipper – Heliopetes laviana
Mimosa Yellow – Eurema nise
Queen – Danaus gilippus
Reakirt’s Blue – Hemiargus isola
Texan Crescent – Phyciodes texana
Tropical Checkered Skipper – Pyrgus oileus
Whirlabout – Polites vibex
White Peacock – Anartia jatrophae
There were several skippers that I couldn’t identify – some that looked like dark grass skippers, and others that had long tails.
I saw one beautiful little moth – it’s one of the wave moths – Idaea sp.
A Six-spotted Milkweed Bug – Oncopeltus sexmaculatus
There were birds in the park too. This is the birdfeeder area.
An Altimira Oriole eating at a grapefruit
This is either a Couch’s or a Tropical Kingbird. They can only be told apart by their song, and I wasn’t listening – I was looking for butterflies!
We met Jan Dauphin, who was walking around in the park, helping people identify some of the butterflies. She lives nearby, and she and her husband, David, have an extensive web site about the Lower Rio Grande Valley. She’s also a wonderful butterfly photographer. Here’s Jan showing us a Fawn-spotted Skipper that had been caught by an ambush bug.
She also showed us an Eastern Screech Owl that was hiding in the roof of the picnic shelter.
On the way back to our campground we found a huge Argiope spider – a different species than the one we find in the wetland at the farm. It’s called a Silver Garden Spider – Argiope argentata