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Off the Trail: Meet the American Snout

August 3, 2018

Butterflies come in all sizes and colors but it’s rare when some other characteristic jumps out at you. This week I present to you the American Snout butterfly. Named for obvious reasons, I saw this friend in a ditch in central Kankakee County.

The huge snout are just parts of the butterfly’s mouth that have been elongated to look like part of a dead leaf stem. When the wings are closed its easy to pass over this butterfly as they like to hang on branches.

According to the Butterflies of Illinois book, Kankakee and Will counties are right at its traditional northern limit, but as temperatures warm, they have gone farther. The snout does not overwinter in Illinois (cold temps) so it must repopulate up from the south each year.

A quick glance on the INaturalist database shows sightings of this butterfly almost always pick up after July 4 with now being the start of peak time.

The American snout’s caterpillar host plant is hackberry trees, but the butterflies can be seen anywhere. I have seen them in roadside ditches and along the banks of the Kankakee.

You cannot mistake them for anything else once you get a glimpse of that trunk nose look.

Happy hunting.

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