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Baltimore Checkerspot Euphydryas phaeton


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Baltimore Checkerspot
credit: Alison Hunter/CCSA

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Family: Nymphalidae, Brush-footed Butterflies view all from this family

Description The Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) is a North American butterfly of the family, Nymphalidae. It is the official state insect of the U.S. State of Maryland since 1973.

During its period of growth, the Checkerspot Butterfly will search for a host plant for nourishment. Its native larval host is the White Turtle Head (Chelone glabra), but it has also to some extent made use of the introduced lawn weed English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and other plants.

Unlike most butterflies and moths, which overwinter as eggs, pupae, or sometimes adults, the Baltimore Checkerspot overwinters as larvae. In late summer (sometime in July through September depending on latitude, weather, and other factors) the larvae spin a pre-hibernation web on a plant, stop feeding, and remain in the web. Several months later they leave this web and enter the litter (dead grass and leaves and so on) on the ground, where they spend the winter.

Dimensions 1 5/8-2 1/2" (41-64 mm).

Habitat Forests & woodlands, Freshwater swamps, marshes & bogs, Meadows & fields.

Range Western Canada, Southeast, New England, Plains, Great Lakes, Eastern Canada, Mid-Atlantic.