Fun Hackberry Emperor Facts For Kids

Oluwatosin Michael
Nov 14, 2022 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
One of the best hackberry emperor facts is that these butterflies often perch upside down on surfaces such as tree trunks and buildings.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

The hackberry emperor, also known as the Camberwell beauty, is a butterfly species endemic to the North American content. It begins its life one of many eggs laid by an adult butterfly on hackberry leaves.

The eggs turn into larvae and then grow into caterpillars which hibernate on fallen hackberry leaves on the forest floor, before making their way up the tree and voraciously feeding on the foliage. They then become pupae which mature into adult hackberry emperors.

Hackberry emperors look similar to tawny emperors, apart from the distinguishing white spots on their forewing. Also on their forewing is a black eyespot and the hind wings of hackberry emperors have blue or black eyespots.

They have peculiar eating habits, using dung, carrion, tree saps, and even human sweat for food.

They are preyed upon by various birds, bears, and raccoons, and hackberry emperors do not participate in the pollination process. The male of the species often perches on surfaces like rocks, trees, branches, and plants to attract a suitable female mate.

Learn more about these beautiful butterflies here, or read more about the viceroy butterfly and the painted lady butterfly here on Kidadl!

Hackberry Emperor Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a hackberry emperor?

The hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) is a butterfly species.

What class of animal does a hackberry emperor belong to?

The hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) species belongs to the insect class of animals.

How many hackberry emperors are there in the world?

The exact population of hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) butterflies that exist in the world is currently unknown.

Where does a hackberry emperor live?

Since it lays its eggs on the leaves of hackberry trees, the hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) species lives anywhere where hackberry trees grow. They are found mainly near rivers and creeks.

What is a hackberry emperor's habitat?

The hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) species of butterfly is known to be attracted to damp areas and places close to water sources, including in lowlands, cities, woodlands, and forests. Its habitat covers a lot of eastern North America, in regions like Arizona, the Rockies, the American Midwest, Florida, and New England.

Who does a hackberry emperor live with?

A hackberry emperor lives alone, but their caterpillars are known to grow and feed together.

How long does a hackberry emperor live?

A hackberry emperor lives for just six to 14 days.

How do they reproduce?

Hackberry emperors are oviparous when it comes to reproduction. Hackberry emperor females lay eggs on the undersurface of the leaves of their host plant, hackberry (Celtis). They lay these eggs in clusters of between five and 20 white eggs. The eggs turn into larvae, then develop into caterpillars, then pupae, and eventually adults.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of hackberry emperors is currently Not Extinct.

Hackberry Emperor Fun Facts

What does hackberry emperor look like?

During different stages in its life, a hackberry emperor takes on different appearances. During the egg stage, the emperor is white with a hue of green and yellow.

The eggs then mature into caterpillars that have three body parts: a head which is black and brown and has horns, a green body which has white and yellow chalaze, and the behind which has two sharp tails. Larvae become pupae which are a deep green color with white lines and spots.

Finally, the adult hackberry emperor's appearance is characterized by a light brown wing, white spots, and a black eyespot on its front wing which has black tips.

On the hindwing are beautiful blue eyespots. Each eyespot is enclosed by black, brown, and yellow rings.

They are almost indistinguishable from the tawny emperor butterfly, save for the white spots on the apex of their front wings. The tawny emperor also lacks any black eyespots.

The hackberry emperor has distinctive blue eyespots (or black spots) near the hindwing encircled by black, brown, and yellow rings.

How cute are they?

Hackberry emperors are butterflies that are naturally considered to be beautiful in appearance. Fully grown hackberry emperors usually have light brown wings which get darker towards the distal halves.

The white spots that distinguish them from a tawny emperor on their front wing apex and their beautiful eyespots with blue centers make the hackberry emperor a sight to behold.

Males have darker-colored bodies than females, who have light brown exteriors. Another endearing quality of the hackberry emperor that makes them cute is that they like to sit on humans to lick the sweat off of them, to obtain sodium.

How do they communicate?

Much like other species of butterflies, hackberry emperors communicate via pheromones.

How big is a hackberry emperor?

A hackberry emperor has a wingspan of 1.38-2.48 in (3.5-6.3 cm) and a height of 1.4 in (3.6 cm). In comparison, a Queen Alexandra's birdwing has a wingspan of 9.8-11 in (25-28 cm), which makes a hackberry emperor seven to eight times smaller than a Queen Alexandra's birdwing.

How fast can a hackberry emperor fly?

Their exact speed is unknown, but the hackberry emperor is known for its quick and eccentric flight pattern, especially males.

How much does a hackberry emperor weigh?

Hackberry emperors weigh less than o.001 lb (0.5 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Although males and females do not have designated names, they do exhibit sexually dimorphic characteristics. Males have more slender, smaller, and darker bodies than females.

What would you call a baby hackberry emperor?

Hackberry emperors do not have 'babies', but their young go through multiple stages of maturity. Eggs become larvae (caterpillars), and larvae become pupae, which eventually mature into an adult hackberry emperor.

What do they eat?

During the different stages of its life, a hackberry emperor shows different eating habits, During their caterpillar stage, larvae survive on the leaves of the host hackberry tree. They eat tremendous amounts of foliage during this stage.

After becoming adults, hackberry emperors develop peculiar eating habits. They eat old, decaying fruits, dung, carrion, and saps of hackberry trees. They also drink from puddle water and sit on humans to obtain sodium from their sweat.

Are they friendly?

Yes, hackberry emperors are friendly towards humans, often being attracted to them for the sodium in their sweat. Humans often encounter them near water bodies and in cities in North America.

Would they make a good pet?

Just like other butterflies, adult hackberry emperors would not make good pets because it is hard to provide them with enough space for their sporadic and rapid flights and to cater to their peculiar diet.  

Did you know...

The hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis) belongs to the Asterocampa genus of butterflies which includes species such as cream-banded emperor butterflies, Empress Leilia butterflies, hackberry emperor butterflies, and tawny emperor butterflies.

The Asterocampa celtis (hackberry emperor) is one of the few butterflies that does not participate in the process of pollination. The reason for a hackberry butterfly to visit a flower is purely parasitic.

The only body part that the hackberry butterfly touches flowers with is its proboscis, not its feet or its antennae. Hence, flowers do not get pollinated by hackberry emperors.

Hackberry emperors are delicate creatures who have paper-thin exoskeletons on their outside. They can be harmed easily if not handled with care.

Hackberry emperors belong to the 'butterflies and moths' order of insects called Lepidoptera. the Lepidoptera order has about 20,000 species in North America alone.

What does a hackberry emperor do in winter?

In winter, the hackberry emperor is typically in the larvae (caterpillar) stage. During this time, they hibernate on the floor of the forest, ready to reemerge in the spring, after having climbed up the hackberry tree.

What type of trees does a hackberry emperor prefer?

Hackberry emperors almost exclusively prefer hackberry (Celtis) plants, laying their eggs on their underside and feeding on their saps.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects including the woolly bear, or the red admiral butterfly.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Hackberry Emperor coloring pages.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Oluwapelumi Iwayemi picture

Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

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