Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¼ - 1¾ inches (3.2 - 4.5 cm). The upperside is orange with black markings; the hindwing has a row of solid black spots. Closed wings have a zigzag pattern of brown and white bands and a median band of white chevrons on the hindwings.
ID Tip: Zigzag pattern of brown and white bands on undersurface of hindwing
Egg: Pale creamy green. Laid in clusters on underside of host plant leaves.
Caterpillar: Yellow orange with wide black stripes and black branching spines. The head is black. Young caterpillars feed in groups. Partially grown larvae overwinter.
Chrysalis: Gray brown
Records from the 1930's, 40's, and 50's indicate that Gorgone Checkerspots were found in Calhoun and Tuscaloosa counties. There have been no documented sightings since. These butterflies are adapted to early succession landscapes. As succession progresses, they move on to other disturbed areas. In central Georgia, Gorgone Checkerspots produce two, possibly three broods per year. They fly in late April/May and again in midsummer. A powerline cut provides the appropriate habitat, and Giant Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) is the host plant.
No host plant has yet been established in Alabama. Although Gorgone Checkerspots are not known to be tied to merely one host plant species, according to the Alabama Plant Atlas, Giant Sunflower occurs in Calhoun County, one of two counties where Gorgones have been recorded. Pearl Crescents should be carefully verified to make sure that they are not elusive Gorgones, particularly in early succession habitats.
Gorgone Checkerspot specimens from Alabama are housed at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, the Yale Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, and a private collection. The four individuals at the McGuire Center are part of the Frank Chermock collection. The handwriting on the original label appears to be that of Ralph Chermock (1918-1987). Dr. Chermock was a University of Alabama faculty member, a long-time lepidopterist, and Frank Chermock's brother. The specimens were collected near Vance, Alabama in 1953. Four of the Yale specimens were collected by Carl W. Kirkwood (1905-1972), who lived in Summerland, California, just outside Santa Barbara. He donated butterflies to Yale in 1958. The single specimen at the Smithsonian was probably from Kirkwood, since the handwriting appears to be the same. His collections were made in the Anniston area in the 1930's. Other specimens at Yale were collected in the Anniston area in the 1940's by an unknown person and donated to the museum by the Connecticut Audubon Society.
A dot on the county map indicates that there is at least one documented record of the species within that county. In some cases, a species may be common throughout the county, in others it may be found in only a specific habitat. The High Count information shows the highest numbers recorded for this species as well as when and where they occurred.
The sightings bar graphs depict the timing of flight(s) within each of three geographic regions. Place your cursor on a bar within the graph to see the number of individuals recorded during that period.
The abundance calendar displays the total number of individuals recorded within each week of the month. Both the graphs and the calendar are on based data collection that began in 2000.
The records analyzed here are only a beginning. As more data is collected, these maps and graphs will paint a more accurate picture of distribution and abundance in Alabama. Submit your sightings to email@example.com.
Sightings in the following counties: Calhoun, Tuscaloosa
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
Typically open areas, particularly disturbed and early succession sites.
Various sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) are reported. In central Georgia, Giant Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) has been verified.
No host plant has been established in Alabama. Note: Although Gorgone Checkerspots are not known to be tied to merely one host plant species, according to the Alabama Plant Atlas, Giant Sunflower occurs in Calhoun County, one of two counties where Gorgones have been recorded.
Click on individual photos to view a larger version that includes photo credits, county, and date.
Photos with comments are indicated by a small, tan dot on the bottom right.