Medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan up to 2-3/8 inches. The uppersides of the wings are brownish-black; the undersides are reddish-brown. The underside of the hindwing has three or four large white or translucent spots in an angled line. The forewing is long and pointed; the hindwing is lobed.
Southern United States, West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America; strays to the north in the United States.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Rare immigrant in West Florida, uncommon immigrant in North Florida, uncommmon all year in Central and South Florida.
Swamps, marshes and gardens.
Three or more broods per year. The eggs are laid on the upperside of leaves, high up on the host plant. Caterpillars tend to roll up in canna leaves.
This butterfly is primarily crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), but may be active during the day. It is a powerful flier; its wings make a rasping noise during flight.
The caterpillars feed on the leaves of the host plants, usually after dark. Native larval host plants are the large cultivated herbs alligatorflag (Thalia geniculata) and golden canna (Canna flaccida); golden canna is also a nectar plant. Larvae will also feed on cultivated nonnative plants in the genus Canna, including garden canna (Canna x generalis) and Indian shot (Canna indica). Native nectar plants include the cultivated wildflower pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) and the vine ocean-blue morningglory (Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides).