Identifying Checkerspot Butterflies
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Checkerspots, a group true brushfoot butterflies, get their name from their checkerboard wing pattern.
Typically the checkerspot nickname applies to species in five different genera. The Chlosyne genus, which also includes the patch butterflies, a group without a checkerboard wing pattern.
Given regional variations in checkerboard species, field identification can be sometimes problematic.
The Variable Checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona), also called the Chalcedon Checkerspot, shown in the top picture, takes on a couple of different color patterns. The dominant wing color on the top can be either a dark or black color combined with red spots on the sides of the wings.
Another version of the Variable Checkerspot has brown and orange color wings. Both versions display the white, or off white patterns on the wing to contrast with the darker wing colors.
Identifying Chlosyner checkerspots can also be problematic. Consider the similarities between the Hoffman's Checkerspot (Chlosyne hoffmanni) in the second picture and the Northern Checkerspot at the bottom of the box.
The darker color on the wings in the Hoffman's Checkerspot differentiates between the two species.
Again, given regional variations and the fact that the color on butterfly wings tends to lighten with time, differentiating between the two can be difficult.
All three checkerspots presented here are found in higher elevations on the West Coast and Rocky Mountain regions. The Hoffman's Checkerspot's range is limited to mountain areas along the West Coast. All three species occasionally fly down to the surrounding valley areas in their territory.
© 2007-2011. Patricia A. Michaels