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Santa Barbara Field Guides Butterflies

     Euphydryas editha
     Edith's Checkerspot


Size: wingspread 1-1.75 in.
Recognition: Variable; pattern of constrasting checkered bands, containing different amounts of the colors red, black and cream. The FW tips of this species are rounded, unlike the more pointed tips of E. chalcedona; it also tends to be smaller and has a solidly colored abdomen (lacks cream spots).
Flight period: Adults active from February to August, but coastal populations mostly fly from March to April.
Hostplants: A variety of plants including Collinsia species (Scrophulariaceae) and plants from the valerian, plantain and honeysuckle families.
Habitat: Fly in foothills, low brushy areas, chaparral, and coastal hillsides.
Distribution: The Pacific West Coast is included in Edith's range as well as other areas of the western U.S. In California, it is not found in the central valley, but is found most other areas, and has a presence in Santa Barbara County, including the Channel Islands.
Other: One of the best known butterflies as a result of research done at Stanford University by Dr. Paul Ehrlich, on the subspecies E. editha bayensis, whose populations are found exclusively in the Bay Area. Populations there are extremely localized, which makes bayensis ideal for studies regarding population dynamics and dispersal patterns. Recently two populations have gone exinct, but due to extensive documentation much has been learned about patterns of extinction and colonization. Euphydryas editha has several subspecies, and two of these, ssp. quino and bayensis, are endangered.

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