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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Anicia Checkerspot
Euphydryas anicia  DOUBLEDAY, 1847
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - MELITAEINI
Euphydryas anicia, Alberta, Canada  Martin Gascoigne-Pees
Introduction
The genus Euphydryas comprises of about 20 species, of which 6 are found in North America, and the remainder distributed variously across Europe and temperate Asia. The commonest and most widespread species is aurinia which is found in north Africa, most of Europe and across temperate Asia to Siberia, China and Mongolia.
Most of the species have a reddish or orange ground colour, with a mosaic-like patchwork of white or yellow squares, and the venation and cross lines mapped in black.
All Euphydryas species exhibit dramatic variation in colouring, even within a single population, and have numerous subspecies and geographic forms. In the case of anicia the colouration can vary from a unicolorous orange to morphs patterned in bright red and white. The black venation and cross lines may be very pronounced in some forms, and greatly reduced in others.
Euphydryas anicia is found in Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
Euphydryas anicia, Alberta, Canada  Martin Gascoigne-Pees
Habitats
This species breeds in disturbed areas of deciduous woodland, including forest edge habitats, small meadows, orchards and clearings, at altitudes between sea level and about 1000m. The butterflies are generally more abundant in the vicinity of rivers and streams, particularly in the dry season.
Lifecycle
The eggs are yellow when first laid but turn reddish after a couple of days. They are laid in clusters of between 100-400 on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant. The newly hatched caterpillars spin a communal silk web over the foodplant and emerge from it to feed during spells of sunshine. After exhausting their food supply they move to a new plant and construct a fresh web. They hibernate overwinter within the web. In the spring they awaken, and resume feeding. They continue to live gregariously but break up into smaller groups after each moult, becoming solitary in the final instar. The larval foodplants of anicia include Besseya, Castilleja, Orthocarpus, Penstemon, Scrophularia, Pedicularis ( Scrophulariaceae ); and Plantago ( Plantaginaceae ).
Adult behaviour
Males of all Euphydryas species are agile and highly active. They patrol constantly back and forth across their breeding sites in search of females. At the time of eclosion the bodies of females are heavily laden with hundreds of eggs which weigh them down and make flight a clumsy and difficult activity. When a female is located at rest among herbage the male dances around her excitedly in a figure-of-eight motion, wafting his pheromones over her. Copulation then takes place and the pair usually remain joined for several hours, and often overnight.
Both sexes nectar at a wide range of flowers.

 

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