North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Black Checkerspot (Thessalia cyneas)
JPG -- species photo

Black Checkerspot (Thessalia cyneas [Godman & Salvin])

Wing span: 1 3/8 - 1 5/8 inches (3.5 - 4.2 cm).

Identification: Upperside dark brown with brownish-red marginal spots and two neat rows of white spots. Underside white, cream, or yellow with black veins; median black band contains a row of light spots.

Life history: Males perch and sometimes patrol during the day on hilltops to find females. Eggs are laid in groups on the underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars feed on leaves and flowers; young ones live together in a loose web. Third-stage caterpillars hibernate.

Flight: Many broods from April-September.

Caterpillar hosts: Brachiostygma in Arizona and Seymeria tenuisecta in Mexico.

Adult food: Flower nectar including seep willow.

Habitat: Mountain meadows and openings in Ponderosa pine, oak, and pinyon woods.

Range: Rare in the United States. Southern Mexico north to southeastern Arizona.

Conservation: Conserve as much United States habitat as possible.

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: Prevent overgrazing and improper logging practices in United States habitats.


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

Black Checkerspot (Thessalia cyneas)
distribution map
map legend

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