Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus [Fabricius])
Wing span: 1 - 1 5/16 inches (2.5 - 3.3 cm).
Identification: Upperside is glossy black with small white spots on outer third of forewing. Female has more white spots on the forewing than the male, and a submarginal row of spots on the hindwing. Underside of forewing repeats the upperside; hindwing is solid black.
Life history: Adults bask with the wings spread open. To find receptive females, males patrol near the ground in sunny places; mating takes place in the morning and afternoon. Near midday, females lay eggs singly on the tops of host plant leaves. Caterpillars live and feed within shelters of folded leaves. Caterpillars of the second brood overwinter in their silk-lined leaf shelters and pupate within them in the spring.
Flight: Two broods; from May-August in the north, March-November in Texas.
Caterpillar hosts: Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), amaranths (Amaranthus), and cockscomb (Celosia).
Adult food: Nectar from many flowers including dogbane, marjoram, oxalis, white clover, common milkweed, peppermint, cucumber, and melon.
Habitat: Open or disturbed areas such as landfills, vacant lots, gardens, roadsides, fields, and pastures.
Range: Central United States south to central Mexico. Strays and colonizes to southern British Columbia, northern Michigan, southern Quebec, and southern Maine. Does not occur in peninsular Florida.
Conservation: Not usually required.
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 G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. 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. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann