Medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan up to 3-1/2 inches. The upperside of the wings is bright red or orange. The underside is grayish-brown, and the butterfly resembles a dead leaf when at rest. The forewing has a dark bar and the tip is slightly hooked. The hindwing has a pointed tail. Females are slightly larger than males and have darker wing margins. The head of the caterpillar is green with short, rounded, yellowish or orange spines; those on top of the head are orange and black. The body is slender and green, with many short, whitish spines, a pale yellow stripe on the side, dark spots on top of the second abdominal segment and some dark patches on the top of the posterior end.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Restricted to Everglades National Park. Both adults and caterpillars are present all year.
Three or more broods per year. The pale green eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the host plant.
Males rest on twigs about 10 feet above the ground, waiting for females. Young caterpillars make a resting perch from a leaf vein; older ones make a rolled-up leaf shelter.
Caterpillars feed on young leaves of pineland croton (Croton linearis), a small native shrub that is the only known host plant. Adults feed on rotting fruit and dung.
This butterfly is endemic to southern Florida and is listed as Endangered on the federal Endangered and Threatened Species List. For more information, go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service species profile. For additional information, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America.
Gann, G.D., M.E. Abdo, J.W. Gann, G.D. Gann, Sr., S.W.
Woodmansee, K.A. Bradley, E. Grahl and K.N. Hines. 2005-2016. Natives For Your Neighborhood. http://www.regionalconservation.org.
The Institute for Regional Conservation. Delray Beach, Florida USA.