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Small butterfly with a wingspan up to 2 inches. The upperside of the wings is dark brownish-black. The forewing has a wide yellow band and a small white patch near the apex. The underside is dark brown with 2-3 darker bands. There may be gray overscales on the margin of the hindwing. The stout-bodied caterpillar is translucent green with small yellow spots and broad yellow stripes along the sides. The reddish-brown head has yellow eye patches.
Florida west to Arizona, north to Ohio, south to Mexico.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Locally rare in West and North Florida April-May, August-September; not present in Central or South Florida or in the Keys. Caterpillars are present from March through early November.
Moist hammocks, margins of swamps, and wooded ravines with permanent water sources.
Two broods per year in most of range. The pale yellow eggs are laid singly or in short stacks of 2-7 on the underside of the host plant leaves. The caterpillar lives in a shelter of leaves that is held together with silk.
Males perch in sunny clearings and along trails, in gullies, or on rocks in wooded areas to defend their territories.
Caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants. Larval host plants include vines in the pea family (Fabaceae), including the native American hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) and occasionally the nonnative vine kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata). Adults nectar on flowers, including the native blackberry (Rubus spp.) and trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) and the nonnative largeflower abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) and various hollyhocks (Alcea spp.).