Bordered Patch: All You Need to Know for Butterfly Enthusiasts

The Bordered Patch, scientifically known as Chlosyne lacinia, is an attention-grabbing butterfly species native to North and Central America.

These fascinating creatures are well known for their striking wing patterns, featuring colorful patches of orange, yellow, and red surrounded by darker borders, which make them easily identifiable and popular among both casual observers and avid butterfly enthusiasts.

“Naranjanita” or Bordered Patch

The habitat of these butterflies ranges from Southwestern United States to Central America, and they are most commonly found in open, sunlit areas such as meadows, gardens, and forest clearings.

They are known to feed on nectar from various wildflowers, including sunflowers and milkweed, which adds to their appeal for many gardeners who wish to attract these vibrant pollinators.

Bordered Patch: Identification

Wingspan and Color

The Bordered Patch is a beautiful butterfly belonging to the Nymphalidae family and Nymphalinae subfamily.

These butterflies have a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2 inches. Their colors range from mainly orange and brown patterns, with some variations.

Here are some characteristic identifying features of these butterflies:

  • Orange base with brown borders
  • Subtle white spots near the wing edges

A distinguishing feature of the Bordered Patch butterfly is the presence of white bands and bumps on its wings. These include:

  • White bands on forewings
  • Small, white bumps on the hindwings
Bordered Patch

Chlosyne Lacinia Species

The scientific name for the Bordered Patch butterfly is Chlosyne lacinia. Some characteristics of this species are:

  • Found in the southern United States, Central America, and South America
  • Prefers open habitats like meadows, fields, and garden areas
  • Larval food plants include species from the sunflower family

Here is a comparison table of the Bordered Patch with a related species, the Painted Lady:

Feature Bordered Patch Painted Lady
Wingspan 1.5 – 2 inches 2 – 2.9 inches
Base Color Orange Orange and brown
White Markings Bands on forewings, bumps on hindwings None
Larval Food Plant Sunflower family species Thistles, mallows, etc.

The Bordered Patch’s unique features make it an interesting and eye-catching butterfly to observe and appreciate.

Habitat

Caterpillars

The Bordered Patch caterpillar is found in various habitats, such as meadows and urban areas.

These caterpillars are known for their colorful appearance and are typically found in Texas within the USA. Some characteristics of this life stage are:

  • Colorful appearance
  • Active during daylight hours

Aduts

Bordered Patch caterpillars and butterflies rely on specific plants for survival. Some of these plants include sunflowers, mistflowers, and Cowpen daisies.

These nectar sources are abundant in southwestern America.

Bordered Patch

Lifecycle of Bordered Patches

The lifecycle of the Bordered Patch butterfly, like other butterflies, consists of four distinct stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult.

Each stage has its unique characteristics and functions, contributing to the butterfly’s fascinating journey from egg to winged beauty.

Egg

After mating, female Bordered Patches lay their eggs on the undersides of host plants, primarily those in the sunflower family.

The eggs are tiny, round, and pale green, blending seamlessly with the plant leaves.

Within a week or so, the eggs hatch, giving birth to the next stage: the caterpillar.

Larva (Caterpillar)

The Bordered Patch caterpillar is known for its striking appearance, often showcasing bright colors with contrasting patterns, which serve as a warning to potential predators of their unpalatable nature.

As they grow, caterpillars molt several times, shedding their old skin to accommodate their increasing size.

The caterpillar’s primary function is to eat and grow. They feed voraciously on the leaves of their host plants, storing energy for their upcoming transformation.

After reaching a certain size and maturity, the caterpillar seeks a sheltered spot to begin its transition into the pupal stage.

File:Bordered Patch Caterpillar (Chlosyne lacinia) Eating Bluebonnets (433156677).jpg

Border Patch Caterpillar. Source: Clinton & Charles Robertson from RAF Lakenheath, UK & San Marcos, TX, USA & UKCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pupa (Chrysalis)

The caterpillar forms a chrysalis, a protective casing, where it undergoes a remarkable transformation, a process known as metamorphosis.

Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar’s old body parts undergo a dramatic transformation to become the various parts of the adult butterfly.

This stage can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on environmental conditions.

Adult

Once the transformation is complete, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, revealing its vibrant wings and patterns.

After allowing some time for its wings to dry and harden, the Bordered Patch takes its first flight.

Adult Bordered Patches primarily feed on nectar from flowers, playing a crucial role as pollinators.

The primary goal of the adult stage is reproduction. Males and females mate, and the cycle begins anew with females laying eggs.

Throughout their lifecycle, Bordered Patches face various challenges, from avoiding predators to finding suitable host plants for laying eggs.

Their vibrant colors, not just in the adult stage but also as caterpillars, serve as both a warning to predators and a spectacle for human admirers.

Bordered Patch

Migration and Seasonal Behavior

The Bordered Patch butterfly, like many butterfly species, exhibits specific behaviors in response to seasonal changes. These behaviors are crucial for their survival, ensuring they can find food, reproduce, and avoid adverse conditions. Here’s a detailed look at their migration and seasonal behaviors:

Migration Patterns

  • Why They Migrate: Bordered Patches, primarily found in North and Central America, migrate to ensure they have access to their preferred host plants and to escape unfavorable weather conditions, especially during colder months.
  • Routes: While they don’t undertake long-distance migrations like some other butterfly species (e.g., Monarchs), Bordered Patches do move to warmer regions or lower altitudes during colder months. In the U.S., this might mean a southward movement or seeking sheltered areas.
  • Navigation: While the exact mechanisms remain a subject of study, it’s believed that Bordered Patches, like other butterflies, use a combination of the sun’s position, the Earth’s magnetic field, and landscape features to navigate.

Seasonal Behavior

  • Spring: As temperatures rise, Bordered Patches emerge from their overwintering sites. This is a time of increased activity, with adults seeking nectar-rich flowers and suitable sites to lay their eggs. The abundance of food and warmer temperatures make spring a prime breeding season.
  • Summer: The warm months of summer see the highest activity levels. Multiple generations of Bordered Patches can be born during this period. Adults continue their quest for nectar, and caterpillars voraciously feed on host plants.
  • Fall: As the days shorten and temperatures drop, Bordered Patches prepare for the colder months. Adults might start their minor migratory movements, seeking warmer or more sheltered areas. Some might lay eggs that will overwinter and hatch the following spring, while others might overwinter as chrysalises.
  • Winter: In colder regions, Bordered Patches enter a state of diapause, a form of hibernation. This state allows them to conserve energy and survive the cold months. In warmer climates or during mild winters, some adults might still be seen fluttering around on warmer days, but activity is significantly reduced.

Factors Influencing Migration and Seasonal Behavior:

  • Temperature: Bordered Patches are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature is regulated by the external environment. As such, they prefer warmer temperatures for activity and will seek out warmer regions or go into diapause during colder months.
  • Food Availability: The availability of nectar-rich flowers and host plants for their caterpillars plays a significant role in determining their movement and activity.
  • Photoperiod: The length of day and night can influence behaviors like mating, egg-laying, and migration. Shortening days in the fall can signal the approach of winter, triggering preparatory behaviors.
Conclusion

The Bordered Patch, Chlosyne lacinia, is a captivating butterfly native to North and Central America, celebrated for its vibrant wing patterns.

Thriving in open, sunlit areas, these butterflies are drawn to wildflowers like sunflowers and milkweed, making them a gardener’s delight.

Their unique appearance, characterized by colorful patches surrounded by darker borders, sets them apart, making them a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts.

Their lifecycle, from caterpillar to butterfly, and their relationship with specific plants, highlights the intricate balance of nature.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about bordered patches.

Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bordered Patch

Would like information regarding how to identify this butterfly
Greetings, Bugman!
I know you are extremely busy with the fast approaching school year (maybe it’s started already in your area, like here in Texas). I have searched several butterfly web sites and am unable to find a match for this butterfly. I live in Collin County, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, and I first saw this butterfly in late August.

It likes my zexmenia bushes — althought it is not feeding on the flowers, but lighting on the leaves themselves. I was wondering if it could be laying eggs. Small to medium sized black caterpillars with an orange stripe down their back are having a feast on about a dozen of my zexmenia bushes right now and have been busy for about a week.

They look a little smaller than the Gulf Fritillary caterpillars on my passion vines. This is the first year I’ve had this caterpillar, and the first time I’ve seen these butterflies. They are fast moving and larger than Pearl Crescents but a little smaller than the Painted Ladies. If you do not have time to identify this butterfly, could you offer some other web sites that might do this?

I love your web site, and this is the first time I’m “Asking the Bugman”. I’ve had my butterfly garden for 10 years now, and it amazes me that there’s always something new happening in it. I’m surprised I can’t find this one in my butterfly guides, and I’m thinking maybe with this goofy weather it may be out of it’s normal range. Thanks for your assistance!
Jackie Patrick, a WTB fan

Hi Jackie,
These are very nice photos of the Bordered Patch, Chlosyne lacinia, a highly variable species. We got our first submitted photo of a Bordered Patch last week, also from Texas. The caterpillars you describe sound like the images posted for this species on BugGuide.

Letter 2 – Bordered Patch

Can you identify this butterfly for me
Can you possibly identify this butterfly for me? I took this picture in Fort Worth, Texas at the botanical gardens. It was taken on August 26, 2007. I would like to know what it is. Thank you,
Kristina

Hi Kristina,
Your butterfly is a very highly variable species known as the Bordered Patch, Chlosyne lacinia.

Letter 3 – Bordered Patch

Subject: Is this a Bordered Patch Butterfly?
Location: Coryell County, Texas
October 4, 2013 4:48 pm
Hello, many insects enjoyed puddling today. Is this a bordered patch? I couldn’t get very close to it. Lovely butterfly.
http://bugguide.net/node/view/28431
Thank you!
Signature: Ellen

Bordered Patch
Bordered Patch

Hi Ellen,
The last time we posted a photo of a Bordered Patch,
Chlosyne lacinia, was in 2007, so it is wonderful to have your recent sighting documented on our site.  Thank you so much for sending both an open and closed wing view. 

BugGuide indicates the common name Naranjita, meaning “Little Orange” in Spanish, and we suppose this is due it it being a common species in Mexico.

Bordered Patch
Bordered Patch

Letter 4 – Bordered Patch Butterfly from Brazil is called Naranjita

Subject: orange and black butterfly
Location: Pantanal, Mato Grosso Brazil
September 28, 2014 8:48 pm
taken in August 2014
Thanks, Bob
Signature: Robert Siegel, MD, PhD

"Naranjanita" or Bordered Patch
“Naranjita” or Bordered Patch

Dear Bob,
We initially thought that because of the pronounced labial palps, that this might be a Snout Butterfly in the subfamily Libytheinae, but we could find no similar looking members of the subfamily from Brazil in our initial search.  While we cannot confirm the subfamily at this time, we are confident that the Brushfooted Butterfly family Nymphalidae is correct. 

We could not locate a match on Insetologia, our sister site from Brazil, nor did we have any luck on the Butterflies of Amazon & Andes.  Finally, we believe we found a match in the Bordered Patch, Chlosyne lacinia, which according to the Butterflies in Brazil and Argentina at Iguazu Falls during Focus On Nature Tours site, is called the Naranjita and “has a very variable pattern. It prefers sunny places and feeds on nectar”. 

The site also states:  “the Bordered Patch, the subspecies Chlosyne lacinia saundersi  This subspecies, in southeast Brazil and the Iguazu area, has more orange in the upperwings than other subspecies, hence the common name there of ‘Naranjita’. “  Now that we had a name, we did locate the Bordered Patch on the Butterflies of Amazon & Andes where it states: 

“Males are usually seen either when nectaring at Asteraceae, or when imbibing mineralised moisture from patches of damp ground. Females when freshly emerged are so heavily laden with eggs that they are barely capable of flying.”  We have examples of the Bordered Patch from North America in our archives.

Bordered Patch
Bordered Patch

Dear Daniel –
Thanks!!!
You have come through for me again.
I’m hooked.
I told my class about the ID as well.
I will post another straight away.
Or is it better to email you directly?
All the best, Bob
Robert David Siegel, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Program in Human Biology, Center for African Studies, and Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford University

Hi Bob,
Please send any new submissions using our standard form at Ask What’s That Bug?

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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