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Northern Checkerspot (Chlosyne palla)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Northern Checkerspot

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Image Credit: Tom V., taken near the border of Washington and Idaho
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Northern Checkerspots vary in appearance, but they generally stick to their range despite overlapping with relatives.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Most Northern Checkerspots have rows of orange yellow on a network of black grid-like veins. The wings are highly patterned and bright. The butterfly may be darker or paler depending on the region it is in, and females can be just as orange or almost completely black. The bodies of most butterflies are black with orange rings by the tip of the abdomen, though females may lack the rings. The variability between regions and individuals makes it difficult to quickly identify, but knowing its western range helps. It is a common butterfly in the northwestern provinces and states, and can be found on hiking trails, in meadows, and in ravines, where males wait for females.

Caterpillars are black and spiky. They feed on asters, rabbitbrush, and possibly goldenrod. This colorful butterfly is active from April through July.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Chlosyne
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            Species: palla

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chlosyne palla
Other Name(s): Mountain Checkerspot
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 35mm to 48mm (1.37" to 1.88")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; yellow; black; white; brown
Descriptors: patterned; orange rows; yellow row; black body; white spots underneath; pacific northwest; flying; checkers

Northern-Checkerspot-Butterfly Video(s)

A male Northern Checkerspot walking on wet ground.

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 35mm (1.4in) and 48mm (1.9in)
Lo: 35mm
Md: 41.5mm
Hi: 48mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Northern Checkerspot may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Northern Checkerspot. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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