Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
First described in 1763 by Linnaeus
as Papilio jatrophae
Explanation of Names
jatrophae is Latin for "of Jatropha", but it's unclear what this refers to. The larvae have never been reported on plants of the genus Jatropha, and the sentence "Habitat in Jatropha Americes" in the description implies that a place is referred to.
Wing span: 2 - 2 3/4 inches (5.1 - 7 cm).(1)
Upperside is white with light brown markings and a double row of light crescents at the margins. Forewing has one round, black spot; hindwing has two. Dry season (winter) form is larger and paler; wet season (summer form) is smaller and darker.(1)
Resident from Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to South Texas and southern Florida. Migrates and temporarily colonizes to central Texas and coastal South Carolina. A rare wanderer to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.(1)
Open, moist areas such as edges of ponds and streams, along shallow ditches, weedy fields, parks.(1)
Throughout the year in South Texas and the Deep South.(1)
Caterpillar hosts: Water hyssop (Bacopa), Ruellia, and Lippia.
Adult food: Shepherd's needle (Bidens pilosa) in Florida; Cordia, Casearia, and composites in Central America.(1)
Males patrol and occasionally perch to find females. Eggs are laid singly near the host plant or under its leaves.(1)
In the original description, Linnaeus cites an illustration in a 1705 work by Maria Sibylla Merian
, which shows all the life stages of the butterfly: Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Plate 4
D. D. Centuria Insectorum Rariorum, p.25
Linnaeus' original description of the species.