Butterflies of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance

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Once on a species account page, clicking on the "View PDF" link will show the flight data for that species, for each of the three regions of the state.
Other information, such as high counts and earliest/latest dates, can also been seen on the PDF page.

Related Species in NYMPHALIDAE:
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Common NameHackberry Emperor by Paul Hart => Raven Rock State Park, 2006-07-21
[View PDF]
Click to enlarge
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Scientific NameAsterocampa celtis
Link to BAMONA species account.
MapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
DistributionDISTRIBUTION: Throughout the Piedmont; scattered in the Coastal Plain, mainly along brownwater rivers in the upper half of the province. In the Mountains probably found only at low elevations. There are few records known from the southern half of the Coastal Plain, mostly close to the Cape Fear River. As there are records from most of the SC Coastal Plain counties, it likely occurs in most of the NC Coastal Plain counties, but there are clearly some distribution anomalies between these two states.
AbundanceABUNDANCE: Locally fairly common to common in the Piedmont. Rare to locally uncommon in the upper Coastal Plain; rare to possibly absent in counties that lack brownwater rivers. Limited in the Mountains presumably to low elevations, where rare to locally uncommon. This is not a widespread butterfly in North Carolina, it being rather colonial in nature, and can be uncommon over large areas of the range in the Piedmont.
FlightFLIGHT PERIOD: Two broods -- early May (rarely in late April) to late June, and late June to early October (with some individuals in the latter part possibly from a tiny third brood). Much more data needed for the Mountains and the Coastal Plain, and whether the Piedmont has just two broods.
HabitatHABITAT: The species is limited to areas with hackberries or sugarberries (Celtis spp.). Thus, it is found inside bottomland forests of the Piedmont and brownwater bottomlands of the Coastal Plain, where Celtis laevigata and C. smallii are found; it may also be found in other forests or along their edges, as long as Celtis is present. It is also found in dry upland forests, usually over mafic rock, where C. tenuifolia occurs. It is often found along dirt or paved roads through bottomlands, and is fond of railroad tracks through suitable habitat also. The butterflies may also be found in the dappled shade deep inside forests.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Dry Hardwood Forests
PlantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: Foodplants are strictly hackberries and sugarberries of the genus Celtis. Adults do not nectar, but feed on sap, decaying fruit, carrion, mud, etc. Adults have the unusual habit of drinking perspiration from humans; the butterflies often alight on clothing or bare skin, and can be studied at very close range!
CommentsCOMMENTS: The Hackberry Emperor is somewhat habitat limited in NC; however, because it is tied to a few tree species, it can be searched for with some degree of success in bottomlands with an abundant amount of Sugarberry (C. laevigata) or, less commonly, in uplands with Dwarf Hackberry (C. tenuifolia).

The species is very widespread in the Coastal Plain of SC, into FL. Yet, we have less than 100 flight date records for the NC Coastal Plain, and it has been found in barely 25% of the Coastal Plain counties. These odd results are apparently due to the discrepancy in the distribution of Celtis (mainly C. laevigata). This large tree is limited in the NC Coastal Plain mostly to brownwater rivers (Roanoke, Tar, Neuse, and Cape Fear). In the SC Coastal Plain, this tree is much more widespread and is often numerous even in coastal counties.
State RankS5
State Status
Global RankG5
Federal Status
Other NameHackberry Butterfly

Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo Gallery for Hackberry Emperor
Photo by: Betty Anderson
Comment: WB Umstead State Park, Wake Co.; 2003-Sep-17
Hackberry Emperor - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Roger Rittmaster
Comment: Durham Co.
Hackberry Emperor - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Jeff Pippen
Comment: Orange Co.; 19 May 2004
Hackberry Emperor - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Madge Birk
Comment: nw. Wake Co.
Hackberry Emperor - Click to enlarge