Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) (Doubleday, [1847])

Diagnosis: This is a small to medium-sized checkerspot (wingspan: 33 to 45 mm) with an orange to tawny upperside and dark brown markings. The amount of dark markings can vary widely. The submarginal row of black spots on the hindwings always has white centres to some of the spots, unlike similar species that have solid black spots. The hindwing underside has two distinct bands of silvery-white oval spots and one large silvery crescent in the dark brown outer band.

Subspecies: The eastern populations of this butterfly west to central Manitoba are the nominate subspecies. The western population, particularly around Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, is the paler subspecies reversa.

Range: In Canada, this butterfly is most commonly found in southern Quebec and Ontario. In Ontario and Quebec it is widespread, north to Moosonee on James Bay. In Nova Scotia, a single colony was recorded near South Milford (Ferguson, 1954) and it is recorded sparingly in New Brunswick. In southern Manitoba it can be common but is local. In the Canadian National Collection in Ottawa are three specimens dated 1907, from Regina, Saskatchewan, taken by the famous entomologist James Fletcher; Chlosyne nycteis has not been seen in the province since then (R. Hooper, pers. comm.).

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The hindwing underside pattern is unmistakable.

Early Stages: The larvae are black, with purple streaks and an orange stripe along each side; they are covered with brown bristled spines; the head is black. Foodplants are various composites (Asteraceae): sunflower (Helianthus spp.), aster (Aster spp.), and coneflower (Rudbeckia spp.).

Description of this image follows
Silvery Checkerspot
(Chlosyne nycteis nycteis).
Dunrobin, Ont. P.W. Hall

Abundance: Throughout its Canadian range, the Silvery Checkerspot is local and sporadic in terms of abundance from year to year.

Flight Season: The single generation emerges in early to mid-June and flies until mid-July in most of its Canadian range.

Habits: This is a butterfly of wetter areas, especially along the edges of streams. The males regularly patrol their territories with an alternating flapping and gliding flight.

Remarks: Colonies of the Silvery Checkerspot appear to come and go in many locations, sometimes with many years between sightings. At Point Pelee, Ontario, this species was not recorded from 1928 to 1982 (Wormington, 1983) and only once since then, in 1987 (Hess, 1988).

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.