Small Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis urticae [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 1 15/16 - 2 3/8 inches (5 - 6 cm).
Identification: Upperside of forewing has alternating 4-sided black and yellow patches along the leading edge; hindwing has an irregular black patch.
Life history: In the afternoon, males perch on hillsides, banks of gulches, logs, or behind bushes to watch for females. Eggs are laid in large batches on the underside of host plant leaves. Young caterpillars feed together in a web, while older ones feed alone and make shelters of folded leaves tied with silk. Adults hibernate, sometimes in small groups.
Flight: One to three broods from March-October.
Caterpillar hosts: Nettles (Urticaceae family).
Adult food: Flower nectar, including that of butterfly bush (Buddleia).
Habitat: Gardens and weedy areas; migrates to high mountains.
Range: Eurasia from western Europe across Russia to the Pacific Coast. Has strayed twice to New York.
Conservation: Not required for rare stray.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Cech, R. 1993. A Distributional Checklist of the Butterflies and Skippers of the New York City Area (50-mile Radius) and Long Island. New York City Butterfly Club Special Publication. 27 pp. Forbes, W.T.M. 1960. Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States. Part IV: Agaristidae through Nymphalidae Including Butterflies. Cornell Univ. Agricultural Experimental Station, Ithaca, N.Y. Memoir 371. 188 pp. Glassberg, J. 1993. Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington Region. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, N.Y. 160 pp. Klass, C. and Dirig, R. 1992. Learning about Butterflies. Cornell Cooperative Extension Publication, 4-H Member/Leader Guide 139-M-9. Ithaca, N.Y. 36 pp. Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON. 280 pp. Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Shapiro, A.M. 1974. Butterflies and Skippers of New York State. Cornell Univ. Agricultural Experimental Station, Ithaca, N.Y. Search 4:1-60.