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Variable Checkerspot

Euphydryas chalcedona


a variable checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas chalcedona, from the Arizona Desert north of Carefree, photo © by Mike Plagens

This well worn butterfly is taking nectar at flowers of Dakota Mock Vervain (Glandularia pinnatifida). Observed at Rackensack Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona. 5 April 2009.

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Butterflies have four life stages: 1) Egg, 2) Larva, 3) Pupa, and 4) Adult. The longest stage for this butterfly is the larva. The eggs hatch in spring - March or April - then spend the next several weeks feeding on a plant in the figwort family (usually). Then the caterpillar/larva finds a place to hide out until the following spring. Early in spring after perhaps some additional feeding on plant the larva undergoes metamophosis and becomes a pupa. The more intriguing name, Chrysalis, is often applied in recognition of the beauty in this stage that also includes the magic of transformation into a butterfly. The adult butterfly is on the wing for less than a month before the delicate wings become worn and shattered and the insect becomes an easy meal for a bird, lizard or spider. One frequent host for this butterfly's larvae is Snapdragon Bush (Keckiella antirrhinoides).

a chrysalis of the variable checkerspot, Euphydryas chalcedona, from the Arizona Desert north of Peoria, photo © by Mike Plagens

Beneath a weathered piece of wood the caterpillar affixed itself and there transformed into a pupa, also known as a chrysalis. Heiroglyphic Mountains, Yavapai Co., Arizona. 19 March 2010.

Nymphalidae -- Brush-footed Butterflies

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 7 April 2012