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Copyright by: Beryn Harty
Small butterfly with a wingspan up to 1-5/8 inches. The upperside of the forewing on the male is yellow with a wide black bar along the tailing margin and a large black area at the apex. The upperside of the forewing on the female varies from yellow to white and is gray-black on the apex, with a black patch on the outer edge of the hindwing. The underside of the hindwing on both is light gray to satiny white. The summer (wet season) form is smaller, with more extensive black areas. The winter (dry season) form is bright yellow with a black patch on the hindwing margin. The underside of the hindwing is rusty brown or tan with darker spots. In South Florida, some individuals have white hindwings. The caterpillar has a green head on a slender green body with a white stripe on the sides and short hairs.
Southeastern United States, West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America; strays to southwestern and northern United States.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Abundant all year in North, Central, and South Florida and the Florida Keys, especially November-January; uncommon in West Florida. Caterpillars are present from February through early November.
Uplands, especially open, disturbed areas.
Three or more broods per year. The slender, whitish eggs are laid singly on the terminal growth of host plants.
Barred yellows are weak fliers. They migrate from northern Florida to southern Florida in the fall. Nonreproductive dry season adults overwinter. In Cuba and Hispaniola, large numbers of adults aggregate in areas of mud and damp soil.
Caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants. Native larval host plants include the sometimes-cultivated wildflower Everglades key pencilflower (Stylosanthes calcicola), sticky joint-vetch (Aeschynomene viscidula), and the weedy sand vetch (Vicia acutifolia) and shyleaf (Aeschynomene americana). Larvae will also feed on the weedy pencilflower (Stylosanthes hamata) and the nonnative hairy indigo (Indigofera hirsuta). Native nectar plants include turkey tangle fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora), and the weedy common wireweed (Sida acuta) and Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata).