University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #EENY-055

Goatweed Butterfly, Goatweed Emperor, Goatweed Leafwing Anaea andria Scudder 1875 (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Charaxinae)1

Donald W. Hall and Jerry F. Butler2

Introduction

The goatweed butterfly is an attractive, fascinating, and widespread species that is not often observed by the general public because of its cryptic coloration (Figure 1) and somewhat spotty distribution within its range. Both larvae and adults are cryptically colored. Adults play dead when handled (Scott 1986). This species provides dramatic examples of adaptive coloration and behavior to escape predators in both the larval and adult stages.

Figure 1. 

Resting goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Distribution

The goatweed butterfly is widely distributed throughout the southern Midwest and South ranging from West Virginia to Kansas and south to Texas and central Florida (Opler and Krizek 1984).

Description

The wingspread of goatweed butterflies is 5.7–7.6 cm (2¼–3 inches) (Daniels 2003) with males being slightly smaller than females. The upper surface of the wings of adult goatweed butterflies exhibit sexual dimorphism in both shape and color (Figures 2 and 3). The wings of males are more or less uniformly orange brown with a dark margin. The wings of females have an irregular lighter submarginal band with broad darker margins. The apex of the forewing is hooked (falcate) and each hind wing bears a short, pointed, backward-projecting tail.

Figure 2. 

Summer form of male goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 3. 

Summer form of adult female goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Both sexes exhibit marked seasonal dimorphism in wing shape. In the summer forms, the forewing apex is less hooked and the hindwing tail is shorter than in the winter form. They also exhibit seasonal color dimorphism. Summer males are slightly less orange with a narrower marginal band. Summer females are lighter in color than winter females. The undersides of the wings mimic dead leaves and are similar in both sexes.

Both the appearance of the adult seasonal forms and reproductive diapause in the winter forms are controlled by responses of the larvae to photoperiod (daylength) (Riley 1988a, Riley 1988b). Larvae exposed to short photoperiods during late summer and early fall produce winter form adults that are in reproductive diapause.

Eggs are spherical and creamcolored (Figure 4).

Figure 4. 

Egg of goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Full-grown larvae are approximately 3.8 cm in length and are grey-green with many minute tubercles covering both the head and body (Figure 5). The head also has a small number of larger orange tubercles. The color and tuberculation of the larvae match the surface texture and appearance of twigs of some common host plants.

Figure 5. 

Full grown caterpillar of goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Pupae are light green with darker green lines simulating a leaf-like texture (Figure 6). There is a small heavily sclerotized black anal ring just below (anterior to) the cremaster.

Figure 6. 

Pupa of goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Life Cycle

The goatweed butterfly has two flights per year in the North with possibly three or four flights in parts of the South (Scott 1986). Their flight is swift and erratic (Opler and Krizek 1984). Overwintering adults mate in the spring (Scott 1986). Males wait for females for mating in clearings or on ridge tops.

Adults feed on sap flows, decaying fruits, and dung (Heitzman and Heitzman 1987). The proboscis is too short to allow feeding on most flowers (Scott 1986). Goatweed butterflies are found in open wooded areas (particularly sandhills) and along edges of hammocks near streams (Glassberg et al. 2000).

Eggs are laid on new growth of the host plants (Minno et al. 2005). First and second instar larvae eat the leaf blade away from the midrib and rest at the tip. They attach fecal pellets with silk to their backs and to the base of the leaf midrib (Figure 7)—probably to repel ants and other predators. Older larvae fold and silk the sides of leaves together and hide inside with their heavily sclerotized heads blocking the entrance to the leaf roll (Minno et al. 2005) (Figure 8). Larvae often pupate on the undersides of leaves of the host plant (Heitzman and Heitzman 1987).

Figure 7. 

Second instar larva of goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder, resting at tip of leaf midrib.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 8. 

Goatweed butterfly larvae (one on stem, one in leaf roll), Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Jerry F. Butler, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Host Plants

Larval hosts for the goatweed butterfly are various species of plants in the genus Croton (Euphorbiaceae). A commonly used host-plant species in central Florida is silver croton, Croton argyranthemus Michx. (Figure 9), a common inhabitant of long leaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) high pine communities.

Figure 9. 

Silver croton, Croton argyranthemus Michx., host for goatweed butterfly, Anaea andria Scudder.


Credit:

Donald W. Hall, UF/IFAS


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

The pine sandhill and scrub habitats that support silver croton are rapidly diminishing in Florida and elsewhere because of urban encroachment (Cech and Tudor 2005).

Selected References

Cech R, Tudor G. 2005. Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer’s Guide. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey. 345 pp.

Daniels JC. 2003. Butterflies of Florida. Adventure Publications. Cambridge, Minnesota. 256 pp.

Glassberg J, Minno MC, Calhoun JV. 2000. Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field, Finding, and Gardening Guide to Butterflies in Florida. Oxford University Press. New York. 242 pp.

Heitzman JR, Heitzman JE. 1987. Butterflies and Moths of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation. Jefferson City, MO.

Minno MC, Butler JF, Hall DW. 2005. Florida Butterfly Caterpillars and their Host Plants. University Press of Florida. Gainesville, Florida. 341 pp.

Opler PA, Krizek GO. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD.

Riley TJ. 1988a. Effect of larval photoperiod on incidence of adult seasonal forms in Anaea andria (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 61: 224–227.

Riley TJ. 1988b. Effect of larval photoperiod on mating and reproductive diapause in seasonal forms of Anaea andria (Nymphalidae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 42: 263–268.

Scott JA. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press. Stanford, CA.

Footnotes

1.

This document is EENY-055, one of a series of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 1998. Revised August 2010, August 2013, and December 2016. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is also available on the Featured Creatures website at http://entnemdept.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/.

2.

Donald W. Hall, professor; and Jerry F. Butler, professor; Department of Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.