Small butterfly with a wingspan up to 1-1/2 inches and very short antennae. The male is yellow-orange with jagged black borders on the uppersides of the wings; the forewing has a wide black stigma. The underside of the hindwing has many scattered small brown or black spots. The female is yellowish-brown or dark brown with a very irregular orange band, yellow spots and an arrow-shaped mark on the upperside of the hindwing. The underside is pale brown, with spots that are darker than those on the male. The caterpillar is brown with small dark brown spots and a dark brown line along the back. The black head has pale eye patches and two pale lines on the face. The chrysalis is yellowish-brown with two dark brown stripes.
North America north to New Jersey and west to California; strays north to southern Ontario; established in Hawaii; West Indies, Central America, South America.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Common in most parts of range; abundant late February-November in West and North Florida; common all year in Central Florida; abundant all year in South Florida and the Keys.
Sandhills, flatwoods, scrubs, and sunny, open disturbed areas such as fields, lawns, gardens and roadsides.
Several broods per year in northern part of range; three or more broods per year in Florida. The greenish-white eggs are laid singly on the underside of host plant leaves and also on other plants and objects.
Adults fly low to the ground in a rapid, darting manner. Males perch in lawns and grassy swales while waiting for females. Caterpillars roll and tie leaves to make shelters that lie on the ground.
Caterpillars feed on leaves of host plants. Larval host plants include the nonnative Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon var. dactylon), crabgrasses (Digitaria spp.) and St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum). Nectar plants include a variety of plants in the family Asteraceae, such as the native coastal sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), ironweeds (Vernonia spp.), sneezeweeds (Helenium spp.) and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and various species of asters (Aster spp.), native thistles (Cirsium) and nonnative thistles (Centaurea spp., Salisola spp.and Sonchus spp.).
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.