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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Desert Marble - Euchloe lotta

Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S4S5

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General Description
Recent genetic research (Back et al. 2011) indicates that Euchloe lotta (Desert Marble) and E. hyantis (California Marble) should be considered subspecies of a single species, E. hyantis, thus reverting back to their earlier treatment as E. h. lotta and E. h. hyantis (Opler 1968; Scott 1986). The subspecies occurring in Montana is, once again, E. h. lotta. The following account includes some information pertaining to both subspecies.

[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.6-2.1 cm. Uppersurface white with black pattern on forewing tip, black forewing bar lacking scattered white scales, costal margin well-checkered with black; undersurface of hindwing with dark green marbling, veins generally not noticeably yellower than marbling, interveneing white areas with pearly iridescence.

One flight: April to May most areas, mid-March to early May in the south, June in the mountains (Scott 1986). March to April in southern deserts, April to June farther north, June to July at higher elevations (Glassberg 2001). March to June in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late March to late June in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005), April and May in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by combination of uppersurface white, black forewing bar lacking scattered white scales; undersurface of hindwing with dark green marbling, intervening white areas with pearly iridescence.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Southern British Columbia south throughout the inter-mountain west to northern Baja California, east to western Montana, western Wyoming, western Colorado, western New Mexico, northern Mexico (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to at least 2286 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957), to at least 2743 m elevation in central California (Shapiro 1977), 76 m to 2652 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, reported from most counties in the western 1/4 of the state and across the south as far east as Big Horn County (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), to at least 1662 m elevation. Uncommon to locally common (Glassberg 2001).


E. h. lotta: arid lands, desert foothills, sagebrush steppe, pinyon-juniper woodland; E. h. hyantis: Open hills and forested slopes, chaparral, granitic moraines, serpentine outcrops, sunny cliffs (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Habitat in Montana (for E. h. lotta) not described but probably similar; in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, reported in rocky canyons, ridges, cutbacks (Debinski and Pritchard 2002).

Food Habits
Larval food plants are native and introduced mustards, including Arabis (multiple species), Caulanthus (multiple species), Descurainia, Halimolobos, Isatis, Lepidium, Sisymbrium, Stanleya, Streptanthus (multiple species), Streptanthella, and Thelypodium (Opler 1974; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Graves and Shapiro 2003; Warren 2005). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Amsinckia, Phlox, and many species of mustards (James and Nunnallee 2011).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly (50 eggs by one female reported), usually on host plant buds, flowers, stems, leaves (Opler 1974; Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 4-5 days (depending on temperature), develop rapidly to L5 instar and pupate in about 17-18 days post egg-hatch usually on host plant stem; pupae overwinter, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in spring. Larvae solitary, feed on all parts of host plant, build no nest (Scott 1979; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day on hilltops, sagebrush flats, in gullies, sometimes near larval host plants, in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986: Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011).

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Citation for data on this website:
Desert Marble — Euchloe lotta.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from