This species has a fairly extensive range, from Alaska south to southern California and the southwestern U.S., east across Canada to Ontario and across the northern U.S. to northern Wisconsin and Michigans Upper Peninsula. It occurs through much of Idaho.
It can be found in open areas, including meadows, open woodlands, forest edges, and chaparral.
Caterpillars feed on the flowers and fruits of legumes, such as milk vetches (Astragalus
spp.), other vetches (Vicia spp.), and peas (Lathyrus spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.
The caterpillar is equipped with a honey gland, also known as a dorsal nectary organ, which emits a sugary solution agreeable to ants. The ants feed on the solution and in turn protect the caterpillar from predators. Also for protection, the caterpillar bears a pair of everscible tubercles or tentacles on the eighth segment. These tubercles are usually housed within the body, but when the caterpillar feels threatened by the approach of a potential predator, they can be pushed out to release a chemical which mimics an ant alarm pheromone. This scent causes the ants to become frenzied and aggressive, and the potential predator takes leave or is eaten by the ants. There is one generation of caterpillars each growing season through much of the range, but there may be several in the west and in southern California. Each caterpillar undergoes four stages of growth, or instars. Caterpillars overwinter in a physiological state called diapause, often in the seedpods of the host. The entrance hole to the pod is sealed with silk. Pupation may occur within the pod as well. Adults in most of its range generally fly from May through June, but adults may be seen as late as October in the southernmost parts of its range.
Males both perch and actively patrol for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on host plant flowers, seedpods, and stems.
|Idaho Status:||Unprotected nongame species.|
|Global Rank:||G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.|
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