One of Virginia's butterflies that seems like it should be much more abundant, based on its host tree which grows extensively, is the American Snout (Libytheana carinenta). This cute little fellow does not seem very common, but the hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis) is quite widespread, growing in a variety of soil types and habitats. It is a delightful encounter to see the American Snout, aptly named for its long and prominent mouthparts or labial palpi. They are masters at mimicking other butterflies flight patterns - ' bouncing like satyrs one moment, gliding like checkerspots the next' as Jim Brock and Kenn Kauffman note in Field Guide to Butterflies of North American.
The snout has a distinctive leaf shape wing with the forewing squared off at the tip. When both wings are closed, the beautiful orange, white and black band is completely hidden, helping the snout blend in with leaves and other forest debris and avoid predators. To further blend in with foliage, the Snout will hold its palps and antennae downwards to resemble leaf petioles.
The hackberry tree is one of the easiest to identify by its bark. Covered in warty protuberances and growths that resemble popcorn, the hackberry is a nice shade tree that grows in well-drained soils in full sun, commonly in mixed deciduous forests.
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