Sleepy Orange Butterfly -Abaeis nicippe

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Sleepy Orange Butterfly Abaeis nicippe

Sleepy Orange butterflies have orange wings with black edges. Sleepy Oranges are found throughout the southern 2/3 of the US.


Adult female butterflies lay eggs on cassia or senna leaves. These elongated white eggs are extremely tiny. Eggs are often laid on caterpillars as they eat fresh leaves at the growing tip of a branch. Female butterflies seem to be often attracted to the scent that is released by a caterpillar eating a leaf. As the butterfly lands on the leaf, it tastes the leaf with its feet. If the leaf tastes right, she swings her abdomen down to lay an egg. If a caterpillar is in the way, the adult will unknowingly lay an egg on a caterpillar. One leaf may be covered with many eggs in the spring or fall. The caterpillar with eggs on it (above) is on one finger of a blue glove. This gives an idea of the size of one egg.


A hatchling caterpillar emerges from an egg; this means that the caterpillar fit inside the egg. A hatchling is super tiny. The upper left photo was taken through a microscope. Middle photo: when a caterpillar outgrows its skin, it molts (crawls out of its old skin), leaving its old skin behind. The 'fuzzy' appearance of the caterpillar isn't as noticable when viewing with eyes instead of camera lens.


Camouflage is clearly illustrated with these caterpillars. When small, they rest along the leaf vein. When larger, along the petiole. Larger yet, along the stem. They attach themselves in ) shapes to pupate.


A chrysalis (pupa) attaches itself to its silk pad with its cremaster - hundreds of j shaped hooks on the tip of the chrysalis. Pupae may be either black or green, depending upon the surroundings in which they pupate. The black chrysalis came from a rearing container in a dark room.

Sleepy Orange butterfly, Abaeis nicippe, orange and black wings, green caterpillar
Wings showing
Sleepy Orange butterfly, Abaeis nicippe, orange and black wings, green caterpillar
Phlox
Sleepy Orange butterfly, Abaeis nicippe, orange and black wings, green caterpillar
Frogfruit

Before the butterfly emerges, its wings become visible through the pupa shell. Along roadsides, in gardens, and in fields, adult Sleepy Orange butterflies find nectar from many sources.

Sleepy Orange butterfly, Abaeis nicippe, orange and black wings, green caterpillar
Wings open
Sleepy Orange butterfly, Abaeis nicippe, orange and black wings, green caterpillar
Pairing - Mating
Sleepy Orange butterfly, Abaeis nicippe, orange and black wings, green caterpillar
Camouflage

The black edges to their wings are visible only when the butterfly is in flight. The last photo shows a roosting Sleepy Orange and a similarly colored leaf below it; excellent camouflauge.