American Snout

Libytheana carinent
Nymphalidae (brushfooted butterflies)

Adult American snouts have greatly elongated labial palps (mouthparts) that make them seem to have long “noses.” There is only one species of snout butterfly in Missouri. Forewings are elongated with squared-off wingtips. The dorsal wing pattern is orange with wide dark borders with white spots. Seen from below on perched specimens, the wings usually only show mottled brown and gray, though the forewings look roughly the same on both sides. When perched on a twig, with only the gray showing, a snout butterfly is virtually invisible.

Larvae are dark green with yellow stripes along the back and sides. The thorax portion is enlarged, with two black tubercles.

Wingspan: 1–2 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Woods, woodland edges and suburban yards. This is a migratory species. The first individuals arrive in Missouri from the south in May. They are much more common near the end of summer. Some years there are immense migrations. Such fluctuations occur when an early drought lowers populations of the butterfly’s various predators, and then heavy summer rains cause the host plants to grow profusely.
Larvae feed on various hackberries (genus Celtis: hackberry, dwarf hackberry and sugarberry). They generally rest along the midribs of the leaves they feed on, which helps protect them from predators. The adults visit a variety of flowers and drink from mud puddles and moist soils near creeks and lakes.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Statewide. Numbers vary from year to year. Sometimes common in the Ozarks.
A migratory species; probably only a summer resident in Missouri.
Life cycle: 
Adults migrate from the south, arriving in our state in May. Males can be distinguished from females by the reduced size of their first pair of legs: To walk, males use only their second and third pairs of legs. Eggs are laid—and larvae feed—on various species of hackberries. Snout butterflies do not fly south in fall. Our population is renewed in May from migrants that survived the winter in the south.
Human connections: 
In years when the population of this species blooms (particularly in Texas and Mexico), the spectacle is inspiring. Because hackberries are not of huge economic importance to most Missourians, the feeding of larvae is relatively benign.
Ecosystem connections: 
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators.
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