silvery checkerspot

(Chlosyne nycteis)

Conservation Status
silvery checkerspot
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S4S5 - Apparently Secure to Secure


not listed


Silvery checkerspot is a medium-sized brush-foot butterfly. It has a wingspan of 1½ to 2″.

The upperside of both wings is orange with a broad black margin, a black and white fringe, and other black markings. The amount of black markings is highly variable. The basal and discal areas are sometimes mostly black with a few irregular orange spots, sometimes mostly orange with irregular black spots and jagged lines.

The upperside of the forewing has four irregular black patches: a subapical patch that merges with the black border; a submarginal patch near the inner margin that merges with the black border; a median patch on the leading (costal) margin; and a median patch on the inner margin. The median area in the first two cells is tawny or pale orange. In the discal area there are 5 or 6 irregular black-bordered orange spots toward the costal margin and one elongated black-bordered orange spot toward the inner margin. The subapical area has a row of 5 tawny or pale orange spots. The three nearest the apex are very small.

The upperside of the hindwing no spots or faint chevron-shaped spots within the black border. There is a jagged, uninterrupted, postmedian line and a postmedian row of black spots. The spots are surrounded by orange, they do not touch the black border. At least one spots on each hindwing has a white center. The discal area is mostly black with a few orange spots.

The underside of the wings are very distinctive and are the best identifying feature. The underside of the forewing is orange with a medial row of four black spots; a black apical area; a postmedian row of 5 pale orange or white spots; a submarginal band of black-rimmed pale orange or white crescent-shaped spots; an orange marginal band; and a thin black line on the outer margin. The underside of the hindwing is orange with many black-rimmed white or pale orange spots. There are several spots in the basal area; three bands of connected spots in the median area; a band of tiny postmedial spots; and an uninterrupted band of crescent-shaped submarginal spots. The marginal band is orange and there is a thin black line on the outer margin.

The underside of the hindwing is tawny and pale orange with brown markings. There are three distinct bands of brown-bordered white spot; a discal band, a median band, and a submarginal band. The submarginal band is interrupted with a dark patch and a large silvery crescent.

The caterpillar is up to 13 16 long and black with a dusting of numerous tiny white spots. The spots are the expanded base of the hairs (seta). On the thorax and each abdominal segment there is a short, black, branched spine (scolus) in the middorsal, subdorsal, supraspiracular, spiracular, and subspiracular regions. There is often, but not always, one broad or two narrow, yellow to orange, subspiracular stripes. The head is shiny black. Mature caterpillars are found in late May and June.




1½ to 2 wingspan


Similar Species


Woodland openings and edges, meadows, marshes, streamsides, roadsides.




One brood: Late May to early September, but mostly early June to late July




If disturbed, the caterpillar will curl up and fall to the ground.

Adults fly slowly and usually no more than one foot off the ground.


Life Cycle


After mating in the spring the female lays rafts of up to 100 eggs on on the underside of a leaf. The young caterpillars feed and move together, skeletonizing the leaves. The third stage instar caterpillar overwinters in a “special brown skin” at the base of a host plant in a reduced metabolic state (diapause). In the spring the caterpillar resumes feeding.


Larva Hosts


Plants in the Asteraceae family, including coneflower (Rudbeckia), sunflower (Helianthus), aster (Symphyotrichum), and wingstem (Actinomeris alternifolia).


Adult Food


Flower nectar of red clover, dogbane, common milkweed, staghorn sumac, vetches, and fleabane.


Distribution Map



7, 20, 21, 24, 29, 71.




Common, locally abundant



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)  


Nymphalinae (checkerspots, anglewings, peacocks, and allies)  


  Subtribe Chlosynina  



Subordinate Taxa


silvery checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis drusius)

silvery checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis nycteis)

silvery checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis pastoron)

silvery checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis reversa)






Common Names


silvery checkerspot








Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.



The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.



The life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. In caterpillars, the chrysalis.



A spiny, branched projection from a larval body wall, the branches terminating with a single stiff, hair-like or bristle-like tip.



A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like structure on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.






Visitor Photos

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Alfredo Colon

    silvery checkerspot      

Kirk Nelson

    silvery checkerspot      


    silvery checkerspot   silvery checkerspot  
    silvery checkerspot   silvery checkerspot  
    silvery checkerspot   silvery checkerspot  
    silvery checkerspot   silvery checkerspot  


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Silvery Checkerspot
  Silvery Checkerspot  

Copyright DianesDigitals

Silvery Checkerspot - Chlosyne nycteis

Silvery Checkerspot butterfly on Butterfly Milkweed
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Silvery Checkerspot butterfly on Butterfly Milkweed  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly Caterpillar (Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis?) Locomotion
Carl Barrentine

Published on Jun 13, 2012

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (12 June 2012).

  Silvery Checkerspot

Uploaded on Nov 9, 2011

A Silvery Checkerspot nectaring on Purple Coneflower in western Howard County, Maryland. August 5, 2011

  Close-up of a Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly

Published on Jun 8, 2014

Thank you to TheGymnastic101 for correcting me here. I thought this was a Pearl Crescent, but it is actually a Silvery Checkerspot.




Visitor Sightings

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  Martha Rueter

Location:Llindstrom, MN

  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

silvery checkerspot  
  Kirk Nelson

Location: Wild River State Park

silvery checkerspot  




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