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      Nature Report: Pixie Butterflies

      The Rio Grande Valley is home to more than 315 different species of butterflies, including rarities like the pixie that don't venture any farther north than deep South Texas.

      With such cool weather, it might not seem like the perfect time for butterflies to be hatching out, but here in Port Isabel on a stand of guamuchil trees red-bordered pixies are hatching by the hundreds.

      The velvet black butterflies with gold tipped wings and richly hued red markings are perched throughout their host trees the guamuchil and on other nearby plants like the anacahuita.

      The trunk and branches of the guamuchil are covered in hundreds of chrysalis, and some caterpillars. Each pixie is thought to lay approximately 200 eggs that last about four days before caterpillars emerge which feed on the guamuchil leaves for some two to three weeks.

      As the pixies emerge from the chrysalis they cling to the husk for several minutes and then begin to move about the branches, stretching their wings before eventually taking flight.

      With a wingspan of less than two inches, the red-bordered pixie is a diminutive species, but it makes up for lack of size with its beautiful markings.

      Pixies are members of the tropical metalmark family occurring almost exclusively in the tropics, and most species are found in localized colonies. Very little is known about the pixie migration patterns.

      But they are without a doubt, one of the vibrant butterfly species that makes the Rio Grande Valley tops in the nation for butterfly watching.

      With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.