Our 2020 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Tour was a fantastic trip. We had a very small group this year but saw an incredible number of butterflies.

Trip Itinerary

  • Day 1: Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, National Butterfly Center
  • Day 2:Falcon State Park, Roma Bluffs World Birding Center, McAllen Nature Center
  • Day 3: Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, Resaca de la Palma State Park
  • Day 4: Loma Alta, Smiley Face, South Padre Island World Birding Center
  • Day 5: McAllen Nature Center, National Butterfly Center
  • Day 6: Bensten Rio Grande Valley State Park, National Butterfly Center

Trip Report

Fauna Ventures LLC conducted its annual Texas Butterfly Tour from November 2nd-8th, 2020 led by Rob Gilson and Chris Talkington. 

Arrivals and Day 1

After staggering arrivals on the evening of November 2th, the butterflying began after breakfast on the 3rd. We opted for a slightly later start to our 2020 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Tour and to spend our first day close to our home base. Our first stop of the day was Edinburg Scenic Wetlands where we quickly turned up 2 Guava Skippers, Purple Washed Skipper, 2 Brown Banded Skippers, Mexican Bluewing, and Tropical Leafwing. 

Day one was definitely off to a great start, and after lunch, we headed south to check out the gardens of the National Butterfly Center. The butterflies at the National Butterfly Center did not disappoint, as we were checking in, a Banded Peacock was sighted on the Crucita near the front entrance, a lifer for the entire group. The excitement did not end with the Banded Peacock; the group was also able to get photographs of Texan Crescent, Pale-Banded Crescent, Evan’sSkipper, Purple Washed Skipper, Silver Banded Hairstreak, Mexican Bluewing, Red-Bordered Pixie, and Two BarredFlasher. To cap off the day, we had an exciting chase of a Red Rim in the back gardens of the National Butterfly Center. We ended this incredible first day of our 2020 tour documenting 74 species.

Day 2

For our second day, we headed west to visit Falcon State Park. The condition of the garden was slightly disappointing for the 2020 Lower Rio Grande Valley butterfly season, as the majority of the flowers were bloomed out. However, we were still able to pick up some great species; such as Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak, Silver-banded Hairstreak, Nysa Roadside Skipper. Leaving the park, we had a fun sighting of a Road Runner hunting insects. We made a brief stop at Roma Bluffs World Birding Center adding Theona Checkerspot and Florida White to our list. We finished the day at McAllen Nature Center, where we found Red-Bordered Pixie, Evan’sSkipper, and Purple Washed Skipper.

Day 3

Initially, we planned a ride east for our third day, but a potential road closure by the folks at SpaceX prompted us to remain again local. We opted to start our day at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, which was relatively slow at the start but picked up as we located a productive patch of Crucita. We encountered our first Red-Crescent Scrub-Hairstreak, as well as a Longtail Skipper, a Silver Banded Hairstreak, and at least 10 Mexican Bluewings. Another highlight of this stop was our only sighting for the week of Collared Peccary, just one individual. 

We left Hugh Ramsey before lunch and headed to Resaca de la Palma State Park, where we enjoyed a picnic before the serious butterflying commenced! The garden at Resaca de la Palma did not disappoint as we located our first BlueMetalmarks within five minutes, as well as Silver-Banded Hairstreak, Clytie Ministreak, and Red Crescent ScrubHairstreak. It wasn’t easy to pull ourselves away from the garden, but we still needed to walk Ebony Trail to find a few of our other target species. Once again, Resaca de la Palma did not disappoint as we were rewarded with more Band-Celled Sisters than we have ever seen at this site, Boisduval’s Yellow, Mazan’s Scallopwing, Brown-Banded Skipper, and Mexican Bluewings.

Day 4

On day four of our 2020 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Tour, we ventured East to scour the thorn scrub in search of some coastal specialties. We made our first stop at a known Xami Hairstreak location, Loma Alta, and checked all of the flowers and ditches twice but could not turn up a Xami. Next, we then headed to our next thorn scrub destination, Smiley Face, and were again denied the fabled Xami Hairstreak. We did find many Obscure Skippers, Great Southern Whites, and at one small patch of Crucita turned up another Blue Metalmark.

Continuing east, we enjoyed our lunch on the beach at South Padre Island and then went across the street to explore the South Padre Island World Birding Center. The SPI World Birding Center proved a nice balance to our meanderings through the thorn scrub earlier in the day. Butterfly numbers were pretty light, we did manage to find several Dark Tropical Buckeyes, and we had a lovely walk along the boardwalks enjoying the shorebirds, a cool Mangrove Warbler (subspecies of Yellow Warbler found on the east coast of Mexico to south Texas) and Roseate Spoonbills, as well as a beautiful Ornate Terrapin. 

On the way back to the hotel we decided to make a stop to try for a look at Aplomado Falcons. Unfortunately, the falcons didn’t get the memo and were not around. Before leaving this last stop, we decided to spend a moment looking through the spotting scope, and we were rewarded with good looks at several distant Nilgai.

Day 5

We started at McAllen Nature Center on our last full day and worked the gardens until about 11:00, finding Nysa Roadside Skipper, Red-Bordered Pixie, and Red-Crescent Scrub-Hairstreak. We then made another visit to the NationalButterfly Center. After a brief lunch break, we ventured into the gardens hoping for a few of the rarities that were reported earlier in the week. Luck was with us once again as we spotted a beautiful Mexican Silverspot, a beat-up looking Ruby-Spotted Swallowtail, a Marius Hairstreak that had seen better days, a worn Guava Skipper, and a Two-barred Flasher. As we were returning to the hotel, we managed to pass the overpass at Conways Blvd. and the Expresswayperfectly to watch the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats emerge from the roost. What a fantastic sight!

Departure Day

Day 6 is departure day. Fortunately, flights out were all scheduled for early afternoon, so we had some more time to look for butterflies before heading home. The day started with fog and overcast skies but quickly turned into another beautiful sunny day. We spent some time at Bensten Rio Grande Valley State Park before heading back to the National Butterfly Center finding a fresh Marius Hairstreak and a Polydamas Swallowtail.

2020 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly List (107 species)

Swallowtails Family Papilionidae 

            Pipevine Swallowtail                Battus philenor

            Polydamas Swallowtail           Battus polydamas

            Black Swallowtail                     Papilio polyxenes asterius

            Western Giant Swallowtail      Papilio rumiko

            Ruby-spotted Swallowtail        Heraclides anchisiades idaeus

Whites and Sulphurs Family Pieridae 

Whites Subfamily Pierinae

            Florida White                            Glutophrissa drusilla tenuis

            Checkered White                     Pontia protodice

            Great Southern White              Ascia m. monuste

            Giant White                              Ganyra josephina

Sulphurs Subfamily Coliadinae

            Southern Dogface                    Zerene c. cesonia

            Cloudless Sulphur                  Phoebis sennae marcellina

            Large Orange Sulphur            Phoebis a. agarithe

            Lyside Sulphur                        Kricogonia lyside

            Dainty Sulphur                        Nathalis iole

            Boisduval’s Yellow                  Eurema arbela boisduvaliana

            Sleepy Orange                        Abaeis nicippe

            Tailed Orange                         Pyrisitia proterpia

            Little Yellow                             Pyrisitia lisa

            Mimosa Yellow                       Pyrisitia nise

Gossamer-wing Butterflies Family Lycaenidae

Hairstreaks Subfamily Theclinae

            Great Blue Hairstreak              Atlides halesus corcorani

            Marius Hairstreak                    Rekoa marius

            Silver-banded Hairstreak.       Chlorostrymon simaethis sarita

            Dusky-blue Groundstreak.      Calycopis isobeon

            Gray Hairstreak                        Strymon melinus

            Red-crescent Scrub-HairstreakStrymon rufofusca

            Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak       Strymon b. bazochii

            Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak        Strymon i. istapa

            Clytie Ministreak                      Ministrymon clytie

Blues Subfamily Polyommatinae

            Western Pygmy-Blue               Brephidium e. exilis

            Cassius Blue                              Leptotes cassius cassidula

            Ceraunus Blue                           Hemiargus ceraunus astenidas

            Reakirt’s Blue                            Echinargus isola

Metalmarks Family Riodinidae

            Fatal Metalmark                      Calephelis nemesis australis

            Rounded Metalmark                Calephelis p. perditalis

            Red-bordered Metalmark       Caria ino melicerta

            Blue Metalmark                      Lasaia sula peninsularis

            Red-bordered Pixie                 Melanis p. pixe

Brush-footed Butterflies Family Nymphalidae

Snouts Subfamily Libytheinae 

            American Snout                       Libytheana carinenta

Monarchs Subfamily Danainae

            Monarch                                   Danaus plexippus

            Queen                                        Danaus gilippus

            Soldier                                        Danaus eresimus

Heliconians and Fritillaries Subfamily Heliconiinae

            Gulf Fritillary                             Agraulis vanillae incarnata

            Mexican Silverspot                  Dione moneta poeyii

            Julia Heliconian                        Dryas iulia moderata

            Zebra Heliconian (Longwing)  Heliconius charithonia vazquezae

            Variegated Fritillary                 Euptoieta claudia

            Mexican Fritillary                     Euptoieta hegesia meridiania

True Brush-foots Subfamily Nymphalinae

            Red Admiral                               Vanessa atalanta rubria

            Painted Lady                              Vanessa cardui

            American Lady                          Vanessa virginiensis

            Question Mark                          Polygonia interrogationis

            Banded Peacock                       Anartia f. fatima

            White Peacock                          Anartia jatrophae luteipicta

            Common Buckeye                     Junonia coenia

            Dark Tropical Buckeye                          Junonia evarete nigrosuffusa

            Theona Checkerspot                 Chlosyne theona bollii

            Bordered Patch                         Chlosyne lacinia adjutrix

            Elada Checkerspot                    Texola elada ulrica

            Pale-Banded Crescent               Anthanassa tulcis

            Texas Crescent                          Anthanassa t. texana

            Vesta Crescent                          Phyciodes graphica vesta

            Phaon Crescent                         Phyciodes p. phaon

Admirals and Relatives Subfamily Limenitidinae

            Band-celled Sister                     Adelpha f.  fessonia

Emperors Subfamily Apaturinae

            Hackberry Emperor                  Asterocampa celtis

            Empress Leilia                            Asterocampa leilia

            Tawny Emperor                        Asterocampa clyton

Tropical Brushfoots Subfamily Biblidinae

            Red Rim                                      Biblis hyperia aganisa

            Common Mestra                      Mestra amymone

            Mexican Bluewing                   Myscelia e. ethusa

Leafwings Subfamily Charaxinae

            Tropical Leafwing                      Anaea aidea

Satyrs Subfamily Satyrinae

            South Texas  Satyr                    Hermeuptychia hermybius

Skippers Family Hesperiidae

Spread-wing Skippers Subfamily Eudaminae

            Guava Skipper                         Phocides polybius lilea

            White-striped Longtail             Chioides albofasciatus

            Zilpa Longtail                           Chioides zilpa

            Long-tailed Skipper                  Urbanus p. proteus

            Dorante’s Longtail                   Urbanus d. dorantes

            Brown Longtail                         Urbanus procne

            Two-Barred Flasher                 Astraptes fulgerator

            Coyote Cloudywing                  Achalarus toxeus

            Mimosa Skipper                       Cogia calchas

Spread-wing Skippers Subfamily Pyrginae

            Mazans Scallopwing                Staphylus mazans

            Brown-banded Skipper           Timochares ruptifasciatus

            White-patched Skipper           Chiomara g. georgina

            Mournful Duskywing               Erynnis tristis tatius

            Sickle-winged Skipper              Eantis tamenund

            Texas Powdered-Skipper        Systasea pulverulenta

            White Checkered-Skipper       Pyrgus albescens

            Desert Checkered-Skipper      Pyrgus philetas

            Tropical Checkered-Skipper   Pyrgus oileus

            Laviana White-Skipper            Heliopetes laviana

            Turk’s-cap White-Skipper       Heliopetes macaira

Grass Skippers Subfamily Hesperiinae

            Southern Skipperling                Copaeodes minima

            Obscure Skipper                       Panoquina p. panoquinoides

            Ocola Skipper                             Panoquina o. ocola

            Purple-Washed Skipper          Panoquina lucas

            Evan’s Skipper                            Panoquina evansi

            Nysa Roadside-Skipper           Amblyscirtes nysa

            Julia’s Skipper                           Nastra julia

            Fawn-spotted Skipper               Cymaenes odilia

            Eufala Skipper                           Lerodea e. eufala

            Clouded Skipper                       Lerema accius

            Fiery Skipper                            Hylephila p. phyleus

            Whirlabout                                Polites vibex praeceps

            Southern Broken-Dash            Wallengrenia o. otho

            Sachem                                    Atalopedes campestris huron

            Common Mellana                    Quasimellana eulogius


If you are looking for a vacation destination that is off the beaten path, Fauna Ventures’ eco-tours are for you. Avoid the crowds at some of the hidden gems we’ll visit, having the entire butterfly population to yourself. You’ll most definitely want to bring your camera to capture all the beauty around you.

Our small group and couples’ private tours are a wonderful way to escape from your day-to-day grind. Relax with us in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Honduras and Colombia will take you back to a slower-paced so you can explore at your leisure with no rush to accomplish to-do lists or tasks. Reach out to our team to learn more, and sign up today!