This brightly colored butterfly is the Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis), they are common throughout the Midwest and eastward. In fact these little orange butterflies are one of the most frequently encountered butterflies around our farm. With a wingspan up to 1 1/2 inches they are far from a large butterfly and may often go unnoticed in favor of the much larger and colorful butterfly species.
Another similar species is the Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos), the main difference between these two species in the "Open" spot on the hind wing of the Silvery Checkerspot. When I first posted this entry I had the first picture listed as a Pearl Crescent. Linda Williams, who is an expert on butterflies here in Missouri and actually raises many of them for release, pointed out I was indeed mistaken. It is a silvery checkerspot. So I changed the information to reflect the right species. I want to thank Linda for pointing out my faux pas. These are terribly difficult butterflies to differentiate....I need to remember to look for that open "spot"
There is something to be said for these smaller butterflies though, they are beautifully marked, and very often easy to approach. I've coaxed them to sit on my fingers and they cooperate quite nicely when trying to get their photo.
The females lay eggs on plants in the Aster family where the caterpillar will feed for a couple weeks. Older caterpillars are brown with yellow bands with many spines. There may be more than 3 generations per year, which would account for their being so common. The adults nectar at a wide variety of flowers and are often found near woodland edges.
Pearl CrescentsThis picture was sent to me by Steve Wenzl over at Out On The Prairie. He graciously agreed to let me post it here. I think it is a lovely photograph depicting these butterflies as they search for minerals on the rocks. Be sure to visit his blog it is a great mix of lovely pictures and journalism. Thanks Steve for the use of this photo.