Checkerspot Butterflies: Pictures and Identification

picture of an Arachne Checkerspot butterfly

Over two dozen types of butterflies in the true brushfoot family have the common name Checkerspot butterflies. Like all things butterflies, the group continue to be organized in a variety of ways.

Generally speaking, the common name checkerspot explains the physical features of the butterfly. The top of the wings, and in some cases, the bottom of the wings have a checkerboard pattern, or squares with black and red or dark and orange colors. As a general rule of thumb, checkerspot butterflies also tend to be a bit smaller than the average brushfoot butterfly.

Most of the checkerspot diversity can be found in the West and along the Southwest border of the United States. It’s interesting to note that only a few of the species might be considered traditional garden butterflies. Their larvae feed on plants in the Daisy and Figwort families.

The first few pictures show some of the more unusual Southwest species. The top picture shows an Arachne Checkerspot.

It’s one of two checkerspot species in the Poladryas genus and it’s range extends to most of the desert grasslands up to the mountain meadows.

picture of an Elf butterfly
The following two pictures show the smallest of the Southwest checkerspots. The Elf, with a stripe on the wings does not look like a traditional checkerspot.

picture of a  Tiny Checkerspot.
The Tiny Checkerspot also does not have the traditional checkerspot look. Both have a wing span of one and one-half inches or less.

picture of an Edith's Checkerspot butterfly
Three subspecies of the Edith’s Checkerspot butterfly are listed as endangered or threatened along the West Coast. The Bay checkerspot in the San Francisco Bay area, The Quino checkerspot in southern California and Taylor’s checkerspot in Oregon and Washington.

picture of a Silvery Checkerspot
The East and Midwest only support three or four checkerspot butterflies. The picture shows a Silvery Checkerspot, the most wide ranging of the species.

Notice the dots along the bottom of the wings. Compared to all the other checkerspot butterflies pictured here, it’s an odd look.

picture of a Baltimore Checkerspot
With the exception of the Southeast, Baltimore Checkerspots are fairly common in the East and the Midwest states that border the Mississippi River.

picture of an Anicia checkerspot butterfly
The remaining nine pictures of checkerspot butterflies cover most of the Western species. It’s also important to note that some of the species, like the Edith’s Checkerspot, also have a handful of subspecies. Therefore, the look of the butterfly can change slightly with location.

Here’s the Anicia Checkerspot.

picture of a Fulvia checkerspot
Fulvia Checkerspot

picture of a Hoffamn's Checkerspot butterfly
Hoffman’s Checkerspot

picture of a Gabb's Checkerspot butterfly
Gabb’s Checkerspot

picture of a Lenira checkerspot
Lenira Checkerspot

picture of a Northern Checkerspot
Northern Checkerspot

picture of a Sagebrush Checkerspot
Sagebrush Checkerspots are one of the species with a variety of subspecies. They range across most of the West and their coloration is variable.

picture of a Theona checkerspot
Theona Checkerspots are another Southwest species.

picture of a Chalcedon Checkerspot
Chalcedon Checkerspots also go by the nave Variable checkerspots. The name suggests that the color of he butterfly changes.