Small butterfly with a wingspan to 1-1/2 inches. The upperside is orange and black; the forewing has a cream-colored median band and an orange postmedian band. The hindwing is cream-colored with black markings. The underside of the hindwing is orange-tan with darker markings. Spring and fall butterflies have a gray hindwing.
Southern United States, West Indies, Mexico and Central America
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Uncommon to common in West Florida mid-March to early November; common to abundant in North Florida early March to mid-November; common to abundant in Central Florida mid-March to early December; common to abundant all year in South Florida; common all year in the Keys.
Moist areas in open, disturbed sites such as roadsides, trails, lake beds and lawns.
Three or more broods per year. The pale greenish-yellow eggs are laid in small groups on the undersides of the host plant leaves.
Young caterpillars live and feed communally in a nest made from silk. Males patrol near the host plant during the day. These butterflies sometimes swarm on roadsides and lawns.
Caterpillars feed on leaves of host plants. The major native larval host plant is the weedy wildflower turkey tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora), which also is a nectar plant. Adults also feed on the nectar of southern fogfruit (Lippia stoechadifolia), the invasive wildflower creeping wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata), and various species of the aster family (Asteraceae), including the weedy Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata).