Leanira Checkerspot (Thessalia leanira [Felder & Felder])
Wing span: 1 3/8 - 1 3/4 inches (3.5 - 4.5 cm).
Identification: Quite variable. Upperside ranges from black to orange, with light spots. Underside of hindwing is cream-colored with black veins; wide black median band surrounds cream-colored spots.
Life history: Males perch and sometimes patrol on hilltops for females. Eggs are laid in bunches on underside of lower leaves of host plant. Caterpillars feed on leaves and flowers; young ones live together in a loose web. Third-stage caterpillars hibernate.
Flight: One flight from April-July.
Caterpillar hosts: Paintbrush (Castilleja species).
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Open prairies, canyons, desert hills, foothills, washes, roadcuts.
Range: Local, in scattered populations. Western Oregon south to California, Nevada, Utah, and western Colorado; Baja California.
Conservation: Colonies in California have probably declined due to invasion of exotic grasses and resultant increased fire frequency.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo.