Small butterfly with a wingspan up to 1-11/16 inches. The wings are bright yellow-orange, with black borders near the margins and some black veining; the undersides have no markings. Females have wider borders and darker markings than males. The caterpillar is bluish-green; the white head has broad black stripes. There are two black crescent-shaped markings on the posterior.
Widespread in North America; Mexico and Central America.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Locally common in Florida, except for the Keys; adults and caterpillars present throughout the year.
Marshes, pond and lake margins, sandhills, flatwoods and prairies.
One brood per year in northern parts of range; two to three broods per year from February to October in South Florida. The pale green eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the host plant.
The caterpillar makes a tube-shaped leaf shelter.
Native larval host plants include the cultivated lopsided Indian grass (Sorgastrum secundum), maidencane (Panicum hemitomum) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Other native host grasses include broomsedge bluestem (Andropogon virginicus var. virginicus), Brazilian satintail (Imperata brasiliensis), redtop panicum (Panicum rigidulum) and probably common bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus var. pumilis). Larvae also feed on the nonnative cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) and switchcane (Arundinaria gigantea). Native nectar plants include the cultivated shrub common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and the wildflowers pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum) and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).