Medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan up to 3-3/8 inches. The upperside of the male is bright orange with no markings; that of the female is pinkish-white or yellowish-orange. The underside of the forewing has a diagonal straight line near the margin. The winter form has heavier markings on the underside. The caterpillar has a green head and a yellowish-green body with a yellow line on the side; some caterpillars have blue spots.
Central and South Florida; southern Texas south through Central America to Peru.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Uncommon May-December in Central Florida, common to abundant all year in South Florida, abundant all year in the Keys; strays north to other states in mid- to late summer. Caterpillars present throughout the year.
Tropical and coastal hammocks, woodland edges and open areas such as gardens, pastures, road edges, and parks.
Three or more broods per year. The slender, whitish eggs are laid on the new growth of the host plants.
These butterflies fly rapidly above the tree canopy and between the islands in the Florida Keys.
Caterpillars feed on the young leaves of host plants. Native larval host plants include cat's-claw (Pithecellobium unguis-cati) and wild-tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum). Nectar plants include the native wild-sage (Lantana involucrata), the weedy Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata) and the nonnative Madagascar periwinkle (Catharantus roseus), paper flower (Bougainvillea glabra), and Turk's cap (Malaviscus arboreus) and various species of Hibiscus.