Identification: Extremely variable. Forewing narrow. Upperside is black to dark orange-brown with yellow, red, and sometimes white spots. Underside with yellow and orange-red bands.
Wing Span: 1 1/4 - 2 1/4 inches (3.2 - 5.7 cm).
Life History: Males perch or patrol all day for females. Eggs are laid in large groups on underside of leaves of host plants. Caterpillars feed together on leaves, flowers, or bracts in a silk nest. Third- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate under rocks or in litter. Caterpillars in high elevations can hibernate for several years.
Flight: One flight; April-June in California and Oregon, June-July in the north and higher elevations. Several flights from April-October in western Arizona, southern Nevada, and the Mojave Desert.
Caterpillar Hosts: Besseya, penstemon, and Indian paintbrush (Scrophulariaceae); snowberry and honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae); and plants from several other families including Boraginaceae and Rosaceae.
Adult Food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Sagebrush flats, chaparral, desert hills, high prairie, open forest, alpine tundra.
Range: Alaska south along the Pacific Coast through California and Arizona to Baja California and Mexico; east to Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.
Conservation: Some subspecies and unnamed populations may require monitoring, management, or preservation.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: Maintain habitat integrity, host plant colonies, and nectar sources. Note: This species used to include these additional separate species Euphydryas anicia, E. chalcedona, and E. colon.
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