North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Leanira Checkerspot (Thessalia leanira)
JPG -- species photo

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

Leanira Checkerspot (Thessalia leanira)
distribution map
map legend

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