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The upperside of the silvery checkerspot is pale yellow-orange with dark borders and markings. It is distinguished from similar-looking butterflies by a sprinkling of white-centered spots on the margin of its hindwings, both above and below. The underside of the hindwings is pale, with a large white crescent at the margin. Average wingspan is 1-3/8 to 2 inches.
Distribution and Habitat
The silvery checkerspot is common from the Maritime Provinces of Canada west to southeastern Saskatchewan, south through Wyoming and Colorado to central Arizona, southern New Mexico, south-central Texas, and Mississippi. It prefers moist, somewhat open places such as streamsides, meadows, and forest openings.
Adult males perch and patrol all day in open areas, looking for interested females. After mating, the females lays about 100 eggs on the underside of host plant leaves. The caterpillar is nearly black, dusted with tiny white spots, and may have a broad yellow to orange stripe, or two thinner stripes, along each side. It is protected by branched spines along its body. Young caterpillars move in groups while they skeletonize leaves. Partially-grown caterpillars hibernate, while adult butterflies migrate. Northern populations typically produce only one brood per year, June through July, while populations in the rest of the range may produce two broods between May and September; some populations in the extreme southernmost portions of the range may produce up to four broods a year.
Silvery checkerspot caterpillars feed on a variety of plants in the daisy family, including black-eyed susan, sunflowers, and wingstem. Adults feed on the nectar of red clover, milkweed, and dogbane.
Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Insects >> Order Lepidoptera
This page was last updated on June 22, 2017.