Heliopyrgus domicella life history
Erichson's White-Skipper (Heliopyrgus domicella) Life History

First instar, probably, when found; 10-31-13

Second(?) instar, 11-12-13

Third(?) instar, 11-19-13

Penultimate instar, 11-28-13

Ultimate instar, 12-5-13

10-21-09, prepupal

10-22-09, fresh chrysalis

10-30-09, ready to emerge

10-31-09, fresh Erichson's White-Skipper

Erichson's White-Skipper uses a plant called Bladdermallow (Herissantia crispa). In Starr County, TX, I find this plant in areas that offer partial shelter from sun and rain. It grows quickly when there is rain, but durig dry seasons it is dormant. In addition to the skippers, the plant can also host some moth species. Consequentially, leaves on these plants to not last long. Perhaps competition for this food source is one reason that Erichson's White-Skippers are not more common in this area.

The first five pictures are of a caterpillar found in 2013. I did not photograph the chrysalis, or get good pictures of the adult, so I have filled out the study with pictures of a caterpillar raised in 2009. I observed molts, so my guess is that the first photograph is of a first-instar caterpillar. However, I cannot be certain of this.

The caterpillars form leaf shelters, and stay in them as long as possible. While I was photographing the 2013 caterpillar, another hatched from an egg on a potted plant in my office. It matured very slowly during the winter. It would eat primarily or exclusively from the leaf in which it was sheltered until all that remained was a netting of leaf veins. Then it would move to a new shelter and repeat the process. It moved at least six times before pupating. It emerged in early March.

In spring of 2014 I noticed that a small potted Bladdermallow I was keeping outside was slowly disappearing. I examined it and found a caterpillar that had overwintered. It became active in late February, and pupated and emerged in March.

Erichson's White-Skipper Page