Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Variable Checkerspot is the March Butterfly of the Month

Wings of Changes's March Butterfly of the Month is the Variable Checkerspot or Euphydryas chalcedona. It measures about 1.5 inches to 2 inches and is commonly found in California, Arizona and along the periphery of New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Washington or even southernmost regions of Canada and Alaska.

These beautiful creatures rely on leaf litter during the colder months and can hibernate for years in cold climates. It thrives in wild areas like sagebrush, chaparral and alpine forests.

The striking tan and black scales on the top of the wings provide a contrast unlike any other butterfly making it easily recognizable in gardens. The underside lacks these darker shades and is instead replaced with stunning shades of red and orange, visible when the butterfly is at rest.

This butterfly can be spotted in various areas within its habitat. Mountains, chaparral and sagebrush habitats are ideal spots to observe the Variable Checkerspot Butterfly from April to June. Watch them flutter along paths and feed on nectar from blooming spring flowers.

The Variable Checkerspot caterpillar is an opportunist and feeds on a wide variety of host plants including Besseya, Penstemon, Indian paintbrush, Monkeyflowers, Snowberry and Honeysuckle. These are all native host plants for the Variable Checkerspot Butterfly and thrive in areas without water. These plants also provide an important source of food for our local wildlife.

One of the challenges this butterfly faces is habitat loss of its host plants. Growing urban development is reducing local wildlife areas, and 61% of the United States is privately owned. One of the best ways the community can help is by restoring native areas and increasing diversity with their plant selections. The Variable Checkerspot Butterfly relies on drought-tolerant plants that bloom in the spring for their nectar source. Planting penstemon, wooly blue curls, monkey flowers and sages are ideal companion plants as they are also drought tolerant, with long bloom periods.

Planting native plants will provide slope stability, reduce the risk of landslides and shifting earth, keep moisture in the ground, add nutrients to the soil and prevent weeds. Planting flowers also helps kickstart more pollinating insects.

Wings of Change has a wide seed selection on its website and can help the community find plants native to their area. The group also offers butterfly habitat consultations, visit https://wingsofchange.us/ for more information.

Submitted by Wings of Change.

 

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