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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Northern Checkerspot - Chlosyne palla

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.8-2.4 cm. Fringe checkered black and white. Variable uppersurface basecolor, from mostly orange to mostly black. Uppersurface checkered ,most often reddish-orange with a light-yellow median row and darker postmedian spot row, base of hindwing dark; undersurface checkered pattern of buff yellow and reddish-orange basal region, alternate bands of brick red and pale yellow defined by black lines, the submarginal yellowish band enclosing orange, white-irised spots.

One flight; late April to mid-June in lowland California and Washington, May to June in Oregon and British Columbia, mid-June to mid-July inland and mountains (Scott 1986). April to August (Glassberg 2001); late March to early August with peak in June and July in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002); mid-June to mid-July in Washington and British Columbia (James and Nunnallee 2011).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Distinguished by combination of habitat, undersurface hindwing median spotband off-white, the 2nd and 3rd small pale spots from leading margin nearly equal.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Southern British Columbia and Alberta south to southern California, in the Rocky Mountains to central Utah and southern Colorado, absent in the Great Basin (Scott 1986, Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to 2926 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957), to 1250 m elevation in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001). In Montana, reported from most counties in the mountainous western half of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Common (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 18

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Non-migratory, but may move up to 1.6 km (Scott 1986).

Streamsides in sagebrush, oak woodland, chaparral, mixed conifer woodlands, montane meadows, paths, roads, aspen (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Pyle 2002). Reported in Glacier National Park, Montana in montane xeric and mesic meadows (Debinski 1993).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Aster and Chrysothamnus, Erigeron, Senecio, Solidago, and Symphyotrichum (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillia, Allium, Apocynum, Ceanothus, Erigeron, Eriodictyon, Erioganum, Helianthus, Jamesia, Lomatium, Prunus, Ranunculus, Rubus, Rudbeckia, Sedum, Senecio, Taraxacum, Trifolium), mud, dung, and ash (Scott 1986, 2014; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs in clusters (of 17-160 eggs) on the underside on host plant leaves (Scott 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011). Number of eggs per ovariole (1/8 of total) about 180 (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1978). Eggs hatch in 5-9 days (depending on temperature), develop to L3 instar in about 9 days post egg-hatch and enter diapause (overwinter) as mature L3 instar. After diapause, reaches L4 instar in 10 days and L5 in another 17 days. Pupation occurs after 27 days as L5, adults eclose (emerge from pupae in 9 days; development more rapid in populations avoiding diapause, from egg-hatch to pupation in 28 days, with adults eclosing in 6 days. Larvae gregarious, build no nests or sometimes a flimsy slik nest when young (Scott 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day around larval host plants seeking females, also perch on dirt prominences in roadside ditches, swales, sometimes hilltop (Scott 1975b, 1982, 1986).

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Citation for data on this website:
Northern Checkerspot — Chlosyne palla.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from