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Copyright by: Scott Sutherland, 2021.
Very small butterfly with a wingspan up to 1-1/8 inches. The upperside of the wings is bright orange, with a wide black border at the outer margin. The hindwing is yellow-orange with a wide black margin. The underside of the forewing is black with bright orange borders at the tip. The wings are rounded and the antennae are short. The slender caterpillar is green with many small yellow spots and a faint dark line on the back. The head is light brown with a black stripe around the edges. There are four pairs of white wax glands on the underside.
Florida north to Canada, west to Arizona; strays to Colorado.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Locally common March-October in West Florida and North Florida; locally common February-November in Central Florida; locally common all year in South Florida; not present in the Keys. Caterpillars are present all year.
Wet open places with tall grasses such as swamps, marshes, grassy ditches, and margins of ponds and lakes.
Three or more broods per year. The yellowish eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the host plants.
Males fly through grassy areas with a low, fluttery flight, searching for females.
Caterpillars feed on the leaves of grasses such as the native American cupscale (Sacciolepis striata), southern cutgrass (Leersia hexandra), and southern wild-rice (Zizaniopsis miliacea) and the nonnative cultivated rice (Oryza sativa). Adults nectar on low-growing plants such as the the native pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), the nonnative chicory (Cichorium intybus) and white clover (Trifolium repens), and the naturalized wood sorrel (Oxalis sp.).