Check out a summary of our 2021 Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. If you are looking for more information about sustainable travel, let us know!

Trip Itinerary

  • 1 November: Arrivals
  • 2 November: Falcon State Park
  • 3 November: Estero Llano Grande State Park, Dan Jone’s House, Resaca de la Palma State Park
  • 4 November: Laguna Atascosa NWR, South Padre Island World Birding Center
  • 5 November: Edinburgh Scenic Wetlands, National Butterfly Center
  • 6 November: Loma Alta, Smiley Face, Sabel Palms
  • 7 November: National Butterfly Center

Trip Report

Fauna Ventures LLC conducted its annual Texas Butterfly Tour from November 1st-7th, 2021, led by Rob Gilson and Chris Talkington. 

Arrivals and Day 1

After arrivals on the evening of November 1st, the 2021 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Tour officially began after breakfast on the 2nd. We decided to head straight to Falcon State Park with reports of a continuing Banded Patch. After about an hour in the butterfly garden at Falcon, we refound Banded Patch plus two other goodies; Mexican Yellow and Marine Blue. We also managed great looks at Clytie Ministreaks and Coyote Cloudywings.

We Left Falcon State Park around 1:30 and headed to the National Butterfly Center (NBC). Upon arrival at NBC, it was immediately apparent just how devastating the previous winter’s freeze was. There was noticeable tree loss in the canopy, and the famed Pixie Tree was gone, only to be replaced by small shoots. As a result, butterfly activity was pretty slow, but we did manage to add Violet-banded Skipper to our list.

Day 2

Today, we headed east to Estero Llano Grande State Park. We arrived early, so we birded for a bit.  By 10:00, the clouds started to move in with a cool breeze, so we sat on the deck and birded (immature White-faced Ibis and Wilson’s Snipe).  We then headed to Dan Jone’s House and were greeted by an Immature Gray Hawk. It was still partly cloudy, so butterfly activity was still slow, but we did pick up one of our main targets for the stop, Double-dotted Skipper.  

Lunch in the cul-de-sac by Dan’s house and then off to Resaca de la Palma State Park (RDLP).  At RDLP, we picked up Blue Metalmark pretty easy on the Crucita, and we saw several Mexican Bluewings on Ebony Trail, but no Sisters, Boisduval Yellow, or Mazan’s Scallopwing.  We then decided to take the tram around the park at 3:30 and had the park superintendent, Kelly, as our driver.  It was a nice ride, and it was good to hear the superintendent’s perspective concerning management decisions at the park.  During our tram ride, we saw and photographed a cooperative White-tailed Kite.

Day 3

A cold, windy, and cloudy start to the day for our 2021 Lower Rio Grande Valley tour, definitely not a butterfly day.  To make the most of the day, we headed towards the coast for a day of birding. Our first stop was Laguna Atascosa NWR, where we roamed the grounds for a while. We did manage one species of butterfly, Mimosa Skipper, before departing. On the way to South Padre Island World Birding Center, we stopped at Roloff Park in Laguna Vista for a picnic lunch.

By the time we arrived at the SPI World Birding Center, the weather had only improved. Yet, we added Monarch, Tawny Emporer, Clouded Skipper, and Sickle-winged Skipper, bringing our butterfly total for the day to 5. Least Bittern and Roseate Spoonbill were the group’s favorite birds for the day.  On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the new South Texas Ecotourism Center, construction wasn’t finished yet, but we had a quick look around and found two Niglai from the Ecotourism Center’s parking lot. 

Day 4

Another chilly start at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands (ESW) today. We explored ESW until about 11:00 am and only added Julia to the trip list. The trend of slow butterfly activity continues. With optimism in our hearts, we headed to the National Butterfly Center (NBC) and decided to enjoy our picnic lunch in the Monarch Palapa. Butterfly numbers picked up marginally after lunch when we added Great Purple Hairstreak and Tropical Leafwing.  

After a quick dinner, we set off to watch the Mexican Free-tailed Bats emerge from the bridge at Conway Road and 2.  Bats started to come out just after 7:00 pm and were finished by about 7:15 pm.  As we were packing it in for the night, we were lucky enough to see a barn owl circle in the sky as we returned to the van.

Day 5

We were on the hunt for some Cameron County rarities today. Our first stop was Loma Alta; it was still chilly when we pulled up to the spot at Loma Alta, so we hung out for a while to let things warm up.  We did manage to pick up Obscure Skipper and 3 Groove-billed Anis.  It was close to 70℉ when we left Loma Alta for Smiley Face, but there was not much flying about when we arrived. Unfortunately, we missed the Pale-rayed Skippers that were seen a couple of days before.  We did get some great shots of Blue Metalmarks, though, and added Rounded Metalmark, Vesta Crescent, and Great Southern White to the trip list.  Our next stop, Sabel Palms, was disappointing as the flowers in the garden mainly were bloomed out, and not many butterflies were to be seen.

Departure Day

Day 6 is departure day for our 2021 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Tour. Fortunately, flights out were all scheduled for early afternoon, so we had some more time to explore the grounds at the National Butterfly Center before heading home. The weather was sunny and warm, and the butterflies were pretty active. We tried very hard to turn up a Guava Skipper before we had to go, but we did find a Double-dotted Skipper, the first NBC sighting for our tours.

2021 Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly List (89 Species)

Pipevine SwallowtailBattus philenor
Polydamas SwallowtailBattus polydamas
Black SwallowtailPapilio polyxenes asterius
Western Giant SwallowtailHeraclides rumiko
Ruby-spotted SwallowtailHeraclides anchisiades idaeus
Florida WhiteGlutophrissa drusilla tenuis
Checkered WhitePontia protodice
Great Southern WhiteAscia m. monuste
Giant WhiteGanyra josephina
Orange SulphurColias eurytheme
Southern DogfaceZerene c. cesonia
Cloudless SulphurPhoebis sennae marcellina
Large Orange SulphurPhoebis a. agarithe
Lyside SulphurKricogonia lyside
Dainty SulphurNathalis iole
Mexican YellowEurema mexicana mexicana
Boisduval’s YellowEurema arbela boisduvaliana
Sleepy OrangeAbaeis nicippe
Tailed OrangePyrisitia proterpia
Little YellowPyrisitia lisa centralis
Mimosa YellowPyrisitia nise
Great Blue HairstreakAtlides halesus corcorani
Marius HairstreakRekoa marius
Silver-banded HairstreakChlorostrymon simaethis sarita
Dusky-blue GroundstreakCalycopis isobeon
Gray HairstreakStrymon melinus
Red-crescent Scrub-HairstreakStrymon rufofusca
Lantana Scrub-HairstreakStrymon b. bazochii
Mallow Scrub-HairstreakStrymon i. istapa
Clytie MinistreakMinistrymon clytie
Western Pygmy-BlueBrephidium exilis exilis
Cassius BlueLeptotes cassius cassidula
Marine BlueLeptotes marina
Ceraunus BlueHemiargus ceraunus astenidas
Reakirt’s BlueEchinargus isola
Fatal MetalmarkCalephelis nemesis australis
Rounded MetalmarkCalephelis p. perditalis
Red-bordered MetalmarkCaria ino melicerta
Blue MetalmarkLasaia sula peninsularis
Red-bordered PixieMelanis p. pixe
American SnoutLibytheana carinenta larvata
MonarchDanaus plexippus
QueenDanaus gilippus thersippus
SoldierDanaus eresimus montezuma
Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae incarnata
Mexican SilverspotDione moneta poeyii
Julia HeliconianDryas iulia moderata
Zebra Heliconian (Longwing)Heliconius charithonia vazquezae
Variegated FritillaryEuptoieta claudia
Mexican FritillaryEuptoieta hegesia meridiania
Red AdmiralVanessa atalanta rubria
Painted LadyVanessa cardui
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis
Question MarkPolygonia interrogationis
Banded PeacockAnartia f. fatima
White PeacockAnartia jatrophae luteipicta
Common BuckeyeJunonia coenia
Dark Tropical BuckeyeJunonia evarete nigrosuffusa
Banded CheckerspotChlosyne endeis pardelina
Theona CheckerspotChlosyne theona bollii
Bordered PatchChlosyne lacinia adjutrix
Elada CheckerspotTexola elada ulrica
Pale-Banded CrescentAnthanassa tulcis
Texas CrescentAnthanassa t. texana
Vesta CrescentPhyciodes graphica vesta
Phaon CrescentPhyciodes p. phaon
Pearl CrescentPhyciodes t. tharos
Band-celled SisterAdelpha f.  fessonia
Hackberry EmperorAsterocampa celtis
Empress LeiliaAsterocampa leilia
Tawny EmperorAsterocampa clyton louisa
Red RimBiblis hyperia aganisa
Common MestraMestra amymone
Mexican BluewingMyscelia e. ethusa
Tropical LeafwingAnaea aidea
South Texas  SatyrHermeuptychia hermybius
Guava SkipperPhocides polybius lilea
White-striped LongtailChioides albofasciatus
Zilpa LongtailChioides zilpa
Long-tailed SkipperUrbanus p. proteus
Dorante’s LongtailUrbanus d. dorantes
Brown LongtailUrbanus procne
Two-Barred FlasherAstraptes fulgerator
Coyote CloudywingAchalarus toxeus
Mimosa SkipperCogia calchas
Mazans ScallopwingStaphylus mazans
Brown-banded SkipperTimochares ruptifasciata
White-patched SkipperChiomara g. georgina
Mournful DuskywingErynnis tristis tatius
Funereal DuskywingErynnis funeralis
Sickle-winged SkipperEantis tamenund
Texas Powdered-SkipperSystasea pulverulenta
White Checkered-SkipperPyrgus albescens
Desert Checkered-SkipperPyrgus philetas
Tropical Checkered-SkipperPyrgus oileus
Laviana White-SkipperHeliopetes laviana
Turk’s-cap White-SkipperHeliopetes macaira
Southern SkipperlingCopaeodes minima
Obscure SkipperPanoquina p. panoquinoides
Ocola SkipperPanoquina o. ocola
Purple-Washed SkipperPanoquina lucas
Evan’s SkipperPanoquina evansi
Nysa Roadside-SkipperAmblyscirtes nysa
Celia’s Roadside-SkipperAmblyscirtes celia
Julia’s SkipperNastra julia
Fawn-spotted SkipperCymaenes trebius
Eufala SkipperLerodea e. eufala
Clouded SkipperLerema accius
Fiery SkipperHylephila p. phyleus
WhirlaboutPolites vibex praeceps
Southern Broken-DashWallengrenia o. otho
SachemAtalopedes campestris huron
Common MellanaQuasimellana eulogius
Double-dotted SkipperDecinea percosius
Violet-banded SkipperNyctelius nyctelius nyctelius


If you are looking for a vacation destination 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 an excellent 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!