NABA South Texas Home Page

Frequently Asked Questions



Where is the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) of South Texas?
The Lower Rio Grande Valley or the Rio Grande Valley, informally called The Valley, is an area located in the southernmost tip of South Texas. It lies along the northern bank of the Rio Grande, which separates Mexico from the United States. The region is made up of four counties: Starr County, Hidalgo County, Willacy County, and Cameron County. The Valley is a favorite destination for both butterfly and bird watching.

Where is the National Butterfly Center at NABA Butterfly Park?
The best butterfly watching destination in the United States is the National Butterfly Center at NABA Butterfly Park in
Mission, Texas. Mission is located in South Texas which is recognized as, "America's Butterfly Capital."

When is the Texas Butterfly Festival Held?
The Texas Butterfly Festival is held during the third week of October in Mission, Texas.

Are there other butterfly hotspot destinations in the Rio Grande Valley?
Yes. Some other excellent butterfly destinations are Bentsen State Park/World Birding Center, Frontera Audubon, Santa Ana NWR,
and dozens of other places across the Valley. All nine world birding centers are located in this same area and are excellent for birding and butterflying.

What is Butterflying?
Butterflying, also called butterfly watching, is a recreational pastime which involves observing wild butterflies in their native habitat.
Butterfly enthusiasts are people who enjoy watching butterflies.

How many kinds of butterflies have been recorded in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas?
There are about 320 species of butterflies that have been recorded in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.
Over one half of these same species are LRGV specialties that do not normally occur elsewhere in the United States.
Over 90 of these specialties butterflies are " unique" and not found north of this region.

How many kinds of butterflies are there in Texas and in the United States?
There are roughly about 450 species of butterflies recorded in Texas and about 600 species in the United States.

How many kinds of butterflies are there in Mexico and worldwide?
The country of Mexico has about 2,000 species of butterflies. There are an estimated 17,500 species of butterflies in the world.

Why are there so many different kinds of butterflies in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas?
The strategic location between tropical and temperate zones makes this area one of the most biologically diverse regions in the United States. As many butterfly species can be seen in the LRGV four county area as in the entire Eastern region of North America. Simply put, it is the best place in the country to watch butterflies year-round and the reason it is home to the National Butterfly Center. Located between the Chihuahua Desert on the west and the Gulf of Mexico on the east, the Valley is an area of contrasting climatic and biotic influences. Temperate and tropic climates meet here and so do the major Mississippi and Central bird flyways. Eleven different biotic communities serve as habitat to well over 300 species of butterflies, over 500 kinds of birds, and over 100 types of odonates. 

Can you tell us about NABA?
The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) formed in 1992 is, by far, the largest group of people in North America (Canada, United States, and Mexico) interested in butterflies. The nonprofit organization's largest project is the National Butterfly Center at NABA Butterfly Park in Mission, Texas.

What books and butterfly guides do you recommend for butterflying in South Texas and Latin America, including Mexico?
Simply click on the links for butterflying South Texas and Mexico and Latin America.

What kind of binoculars are recommended for butterfly watching?
You can of course enjoy butterflies with or without binoculars. However, to fully appreciate the subtle sheens, intricate patterns, and help identify different kinds of butterflies, binoculars that can focus as close as 3 feet away are recommended. Eagle Optics Rangers 8 X 42 are one of many excellent options.

Where do butterflies sleep and seek shelter?
Many butterflies seek shelter underneath leafs, inside plant cover, between blades of grass, and various crevices. Some simply find a comfortable perch on a stem or limb. Butterflies such as sulphurs are commonly seen camouflaging and bedding down among similar colored vegetation. Still other butterflies such as queens, monarchs, and heliconians are quite gregarious and are frequently seen roosting together in large numbers.

How long does a butterfly live?
Many different kinds of butterflies live about 2 weeks or less. The smallest butterflies may live only a week or so, while a few butterflies such as Mourning Cloaks and tropical heliconians can live up to nine months or more.

Can butterflies smell?
Yes, they use their antennas and the bottoms of their feet to smell.

Can butterflies hear?
Scientists from the University of Bristol, UK, have discovered a clever structure in the ear on the wing of a tropical butterfly that potentially makes it able to distinguish between high and low pitch sounds. Scientists working at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, University of Strathclyde and Carleton University, Ontario, Canada, carried out the research.

Where can I find more information about butterflies, listing, gardening, and raising caterpillars?
Visit the North American Butterfly Association web site.


October 27, 2011 / Site map