White-striped Longtail Butterfly (Chioides albofasciatus)
Over the weekend I came across a new-to-me butterfly in the garden while we were working on the edible garden fencing. It flitted from blackberry flower to blackberry flower and my first reaction was “oh, the long-tailed skippers are here already?” Then I did a double take and realized that wasn’t a long-tailed skipper and it was something different. I didn’t have my phone so I tried to burn the image into my memory so I could look it up in my field guide when I went inside. Flipping through the field guide while I was eating lunch I came across the white-striped longtail in Kaufmann’s Butterflies of North America who called it a scarce butterfly and mapped it to mostly south Texas with a potential to stray from Austin to Houston. Then I looked it up on iNaturalist and laughed because Kaufmann must be much out of date, there were a plethora of sightings from Austin to Houston, not super heavy as would be for more common species, but enough to say that the range had definitely expanded since that book was written. And that’s definitely what the species was out there in the garden.
I took my camera back out with me and sure enough it was still there but it didn’t rest long between flowers and I only managed to snap a few decent shots before I gave up and moved back to working on the garden. Like the long-tailed skipper, the white-striped longtail larval host plants include legumes so I can only hope I will potentially have some lovely caterpillars on our bean vines sometime this spring. And hope that I will get to see the butterfly in the garden again this year!
As it happens, I saw one of these this year, too. Even better, it was a Floridian who helped me ID it; he says they’re quite common in his area, so the next time you get to Florida, you might watch for them there, too.
I will keep an eye out for one. I had a bunch of different butterflies, but they seemed to have moved on.