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NABA International Butterfly Park

National Butterfly Center at NABA Butterfly Park

Butterfly Park Checklist

Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Trail

Cameron Co.     Hidalgo Co.    Starr Co.

Google Map to all known sites compiled by Mike Quinn

Cameron County Locations

RGV Butterflies best seen in Cameron County include:
Great Southern White, Xami Hairstreak, Blue Metalmark, Tropical Buckeye
Double-dotted Skipper, Fawn-spotted Skipper, Obscure Skipper

Resaca de la Palma State Park - World Birding Center

Opened on December 6, 2008, Brownsville’s Resaca de la Palma State Park is the latest addition to the Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Trail. The park boasts 1700 acres and is the largest tract of native habitat in the World Birding Center network. Abandoned coils of river bed, known locally as resacas, create wildlife-attracting ponds here when full. Along the natural levees of these shallow ponds are dense stands of banco woodlands and marsh vegetation which are excellent butterfly habitats. Elsewhere, drier Tamaulipan thorn woodlands include classic mesquite, anacahuita, crucillo (host for Band-celled Sister), vasey adelia, ebony, large stands of guayacan, anacuas, retama, sennas, and many other caterpillar loving plants.

The Butterflies
Resaca de la Palma promises to be an especially rich butterflying environment. Colorful Mexican Bluewings and Band-celled Sisters alight along the vegetation rich trails. The Butterfly Garden next to the visitor center which features crucita, betony leaf mistflower and vevet lantana is frequently visited by Julian and Zebra Heliconians, Queens, Soldiers, Sickle-wing Skippers, Fawn-spotted Skippers and even an occassional Orange-barred Sulphur. Look for Guatemalan Crackers on mesquite trunks and Blue Metalmarks which also visit the gardens. Many other rare and beautiful butterflies are sure to be discovered at Resaca de la Palma State Park.

South Padre Island Convention Center - South Padre

The grounds in front of the Convention Center (at the north end of the strip) have been wonderfully landscaped, primarily to provide habitat for migrating Neotropical Songbirds, however, the Neotropical Butterflies have found these plants to their liking as well! Some of the specialties found here are Great Southern Whites, Tropical Buckeyes and Obscure Skippers

Texas Nature Conservancy's Southmost Preserve - Brownsville

This preserve of just over 1,000 acres southeast of Brownsville was recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy. 20 to 30 Zebra Heliconians were seen here one day in January of 2003. The Texas Master Naturalists have planted a terrific butterfly garden. Access by prior arrangement. 

Sabal Palm Audubon Center & Sanctuary - Brownsville

The Palm Grove has 13 new Butterfly Gardens located behind the visitor's center! The Palm Grove is one of the best spots in the Valley to find numerous Blue Metalmarks and Fawn-spotted Skippers. The Resaca Trial passes through open habitat and has much Eupatorium blooming from October through November. Double-dotted Skipper is best found here. If time permits, explore the Forest Trail for Zebra Heliconians. Sickle-winged Skippers are guaranteed.

Laguna Atascosa NWR - Rio Hondo = Checklist

This 45,000-acre wildlife refuge offers incredible birding opportunities and the butterflying ain't bad either! The excellent large butterfly garden has been recently been expanded upon near the visitors’ center. Theona Checkerspots are usually found here. Over 50 Clytie Ministreaks were reported during the summer of 2001. An estimated 300 Blue Metalmarks (!) were recorded in the gardens in late October of 2003.

Lomas near Brownsville

"Lomas" are stabilized clay dunes. Some of the lomas east of Brownsville along Hwy 4 are managed by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. These tracts are open to foot traffic and should be checked for Tiny Checkerspots, Definite Patches and Xami Hairstreaks

Palo Alto Battlefield - Brownsville

Walk the trails to look for Definite Patch.

Harlingen Arroyo Colorado - Harlingen

Texas Ebony woodlands dominate 55-acre Hugh Ramsey Park to the east, while the 40-acre Harlingen Thicket to the west. Many butterfly host and nectar plants are maintained here. Urania moths were seen here in August of 2005. Texas Master Naturalists and countless other volunteers have spent thousands of hours planting and maintaining native butterfly gardens along the woodland trails of Hugh Ramsey Park which is also home to one of the nine Rio Grande Valley Birding Centers. Look for this to be a favorite hotspot in the coming years. Look for the Blue Metalmarks on the perennial favorite, heliotrope.

Los Ebanos Preserve - South of San Benito

This 81 acre preserve normally has a few Blue Metalmarks daily, however in the fall of 2002 over 50 Blue Metalmarks were found daily!!! Other regular target species usually seen here include Mexican Bluewings and several species of Heliconians. At the intersection of Hwys 100 and 77, it's an easy stop on the way to or from Brownsville or the coast. They continually are expanding their butterfly garden areas. 

Hidalgo County Locations

Aerial Photograph of Southwestern Hidalgo County

Valley Nature Center - Weslaco = Checklist (pronounced "WES la co")

The Valley Nature Center's 5-acre park has many excellent butterfly-attracting plants; lots of Eupatorium, Lantana, Helianthus, and Asclepias are well established. Here the butterflier should delight in seeing many Bordered Patches, Vesta, Phaon and Pearl Crescents, White Peacocks, and Soldiers. Six species of tailed Skippers can be discerned here: Brown Longtail, Teleus Longtail, White-striped Longtail, Zilpa Longtail, Dorantes Longtail and the Long-tailed Skipper! Red-bordered Pixies and Guava Skippers are good possibilities too. Recent notable sightings include the Broad-banded Swallowtail, Orange-barred Sulphur, Tailed Orange, Great Purple Hairstreak, Zebra Heliconian, Isabella Heliconian, Elada Checkerspot, Malachite, Red Rim and Ruddy Daggerwing.

Frontera Audubon Center - Weslaco = Checklist

A must stop for every casual or serious butterflier! Frontera Audubon is one of the premier butterfly destinations of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It's spectacular native gardens and legendary thicket have produced such rarities and specialities as the Starred Skipper, Gray Cracker, Pale-banded Crescent, Silver-banded Hairstreak, East-Mexican White Skipper, and the Ruby-spotted Swallowtail. Begin butterflying the many nectar plants that surround the parking lot. There are more butterfly plants along the forested trails. In back, the trails open up to a Sabal Palm forest and full sun again. Frontera Audubon is behind the large stucco building at 12th and Texas Blvd (FM 88).

1101 South Texas Blvd

Golden Raintree Gardens - Weslaco

Private property immediately south of Frontera Audubon at 1303 S. Texas Blvd. This is a citrus outlet that is extensively landscaped. They are seasonally open. Phone: 956-968-6161

Estero Llano Grande State Park - Weslaco

Locally known as "Llano Grande" (pronounced YA-no gran-DE), this 176 acre park is a new addition to the park system due south of Weslaco on FM 1015. This is a premiere location for Dragonflies.

Santa Ana NWR - Alamo = Checklist

The Butterfly Garden between the parking lot and the Visitors' Center is one of the premiere butterflying hot spots in the nation. Over 60 species of Butterflies can be seen in this small area a few hours, particularly in the late Summer and Fall. If you can tear yourself away from the garden, the wooded trails particularly around Willow Lake should be explored for Zebras, Julias, Malachites and Mexican Bluewings. The open habitat around Cattail and Pintail Lakes should be investigated for Silver-banded Hairstreaks on their host plant, Ballonvine. Jaguarundi Trail is encompassed by the greatest plant diversity on the refuge. Theona Crescents, Vesta Crescents, Elada Checkerspots, Laviana White-Skippers and Desert Checkered-Skippers are usually common here but _anything_ might show up. Santa Ana NWR has a recently revised Butterfly List with 291 species. It is free for the asking at the Visitors' Center and very helpful Valley-wide.

Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR - Alamo

The current 100+ LRGV tracts compliment an existing wildlife corridor, lands managed for the benefit of wildlife by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, private landowners and the Santa Ana and Laguna Atascosa NWRs. LRGV NWR will eventually encompass 132,500 acres.

Edinburg Scenic Wetland - Edinburg (pronounced "ED in burg")

This is Edinburg's station of the World Birding Center. Six acres of butterfly plants were put in the ground in the fall of 2002. These plants were augmented by mulch, manure and 9 miles (!!) of drip irrigation. By the fall of 2003 rarities such as Red-crescent Scrub-Hairstreaks, Lantana Scrub-Hairstreaks, and Many-banded Daggerwing were starting to show up. To get there, travel north from Pharr on US 281 to Edinburg. Take the Sprague exit and travel east. 

Quinta Mazatlan - McAllen

An urban butterfly oasis and a must stop on the RGV butterfly trail. Birds, butterflies, and culture...who could ask for anything more? Amidst urban sprawl, Quinta Mazatlan is a shining tribute to conservation efforts in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Located across the street from the entrance to the McAllen Airport, Quinta Mazatlan has 15 acres of habitat including numerous butterfly gardens and trails. It is the home to another of the nine Rio Grande Valley World Birding Centers . Simple equation...Birding Centers = Birds and Bountiful Butterflies. Since all World Birding Centers are surrounded by native trees, plants, and flowers, they have all become top butterfly attractants. Quinta will bedazzle you with butterflies, birds, architecture, art, and more! Expect lots of butterfly news and new records from here.

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse - Hidalgo

The Hidalgo, Texas wing of the World Birding Center. The Magic Valley’s early 20th Century transition into an agricultural powerhouse is retold at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, which also embraces nature conservation as a wing of the World Birding Center. . Visitors can wander the museum’s grounds, where many type of native trees, shrubs, and flowers attract large numbres of butterflies. Next door to the museum, more than 600 acres of U.S. Fish and Wildlife land is being replanted with native Huisache, Texas Ebony and Anacua, and will be a magnet for rare Mexican butterfly strays as well as an excellent habitat for all the South Texas specialties. The Pumphouse is a must stop on the Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterfly Trail and a great place to take the family for a picnic.

Mission West RV Park - Mission

Private property located at 3805 W. Business Hwy 83. They have an extensive Duranta hedge along left-most fence line. Phone: 956-585-5551

Anzalduas County Park - Mission

With good rains, this site can be quite productive. In the fall of 2003, FIVE Pavon Emperors were found in one day, along with Red Rims, Mexican Bluewings and Malachites!

National Butterfly Center at NABA Butterfly Park

Mission, Texas Checklist

The best place to watch butterflies in the Rio Grande Valley. Located along the Rio Gande River, the Park has beautiful butterfly gardens and trails. This 100 acre butterfly oasis is "Dedicated to education, conservation and scientific research on wild butterflies." l

The National Butterfly Center gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the North American Butterfly Association*, public/private funding , and visitors that pay the admission fee. It is through these contributions that the Park continues to grow, maintain its beautiful gardens, pay its staff, and provide a sanctuary for wild butterflies.

Won't you help make the
National Butterfly Center at NABA Butterfly Park
grow by donating generously!

Your tax deductible donations can
be sent directly to:
National Butterfly Center
P.O.Box 878 Mission, Tx 78573
(956) 583-9009

*Please note that membership in the North American Butterfly Association does not include free admission to the Butterfly Park.


Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park - Mission = Checklist

Two large Wild Olive Trees in front of the Visitors' Center is a great place to begin butterflying this state park. Look for a variety of Swallowtails and Skippers. Bentsen has one of the newest butterfly gardens in the Valley but due to the sprinkler system (paid for by the Mission Chamber of Commerce), this garden by the boat ramp has made great strides. Red-bordered Metalmarks can be particularly common here. The Rio Grande Hiking Trail, Dump Road and Trailer Loop can all be productive. Look for Mexican Bluewings, Red Rims, Florida Purplewings, Gray Crackers and Tropical Leafwings. Due to the abundant Hackberry Trees, Empress Leilias and Tawny Emperors abound. Many species of butterflies have been recorded in Bentsen State Park and nowhere else in North America.

Mission Chamber of Commerce - Mission

This small urban garden in front of the Mission Chamber never ceases to amaze me! One and 1/2 blocks east of 9th Street and Conway Blvd in the middle of Mission. This is probably the most reliable place in the Valley to find the Guava Skipper. As many as 6 have been seen here at one time!!! Other hot butterflies seen here include the Silver-banded Hairstreak, Mexican Fritillaries (4 at one time), Red-bordered Pixies and Banded Peacocks. This site is definitely worth checking.

Lucy's Garden - Mission

Excellent butterfly garden at the West parking lot of Mission City Hall and another small garden next to the Parks and Recreation building. It's truly amazing how many species have been attracted to these modest gardens. Potrillo and Guava Skippers, Red-bordered Pixies, Florida Whites, Blue-eyed Sailors, Evan's Skipper, Mournful and Funereal Duskywings and most any other RGV butterfly can be seen here.

Starr County Locations

Roma Bluffs - Roma

On the steep north bank of the Rio Grande immediately west of the International Bridge in Roma, there is a small remnant of habitat that can be quite productive. This single location has produced a number of new Starr County Records. (Caution must be exercised here due to the uneven footing and the steepness of the bank.) The possibilities of this site can be glimpsed by the following list of butterflies seen on a single day in August of last year by Charlie Sassine: (1) Band-celled Sister, (9) Mexican Bluewings, (1) Red Rim, (3) Gray Crackers, and (1) Pale-spotted Leafwing!!! Also, as many as 12 Polydamas Swallowtails have been seen here in a day! Starr County is perhaps the best location to find a new record for the United States. The drainage from the Sierra de los Picachos of northeastern Mexico empties into the Rio Grande in this area.


This sleepy town can be crawling with butterflies, particularly in the fall. Search down along the river, but also take time to walk the streets. Four Banded Peacocks were found in the fall of 2003.

Las Estrellas Preserve - New location

Falcon State Park - Falcon Heights New location

A new and spectacular butterfly garden inside the Park has attracted many recent rare and unusual sighitngs including the 1st modern U.S. record of the Telea Hairstreak. Other rare and extraorindary finds in 2007 were the Ruddy Hairstreak, East-Mexican White-Skipper, California Sister, Guatemalan Cracker, Common Banner, Eight-spotted Longtail, Red Rim, Ruby-spotted Swallowtail. Lacey's Scrub-Hairstreak, White Scrub-Hairstrreak, Curve-winged Metalmark, Blue Metalmark, Banded Patch, Banded Peacock, and many many more. On November 17, 2007, 1st U.S. Record Guatemalan Leafwing was found at this location.

10-Sep-2009 / Site Map