Bordered Patch Butterflies in the
I planted Sun Chocks (Jerusalem Artichokes) in the
garden a few years ago, thinking they would be an easily grown addition
to our diet. The “easily grown” part worked out fine,
but we never successfully adopted the gaseous little fellows into
our diet. Nevertheless, one cluster of them remained in the front
yard for no good reason until a wandering female discovered them
one year. Now the Sun Chocks serve the purpose of maintaining this
delightful butterfly colony.
The Bordered Patch butterfly (Chlosyne
lacinia, subspecies) ranges from northern New Mexico south
to Argentina, east to about Huston TX and west across the desert
regions to California. In south Texas, it is on the wing year round,
but in southern New Mexico, it flies from March through October.
The Patch Butterfly is likely the most variable butterfly in our
area with endless polymorphisms of wing color and pattern. Populations
in southern New Mexico are integrades between two defined subspecies
– one to the west and one to the east and south. So don’t
expect all the individuals you see to look exactly like each other
or like these photographs. Males and females are similar, except
that females are slightly larger.
Females deposit their eggs on the undersides of leaves
in clusters of about 140. The first three larval instars remain
together feeding communally and causing considerable damage to the
plants. The larvae clusters may even make loose tent structures
for protection. Older larvae are solitary. Overwintering occurs
in the third larval instar (pictured) and the larvae may become
dormant during hot dry spells.
The larvae feed on many members of the Sunflower family,
but have a definite preference for Sun Chocks in my garden. Adults
nectar feed on most flowers, but show a preference for yellow and
white ones if they are available.
So if you want to add this beautiful little butterfly
to your garden, plant some Sun Chocks and give me a call next summer
for a “seeding” of young larvae, or wait for a wandering
female to find you.
Good gardening and good eating,
Doña Ana Extension Master Gardener