This is another “recent” discovery in the state, having first been discovered in the mid 1980s. Once again, after being found and investigating promising habitats, it has been found at numerous locations. This butterfly is closely associated with it’s larval hostplant Castilleja sessiliflora or Downy Paintbrush. This plant is most often found on hilltops, mainly in the southwestern loess hills and the panhandle. There are also records for this plant in many of the Missouri River border counties in eastern Nebraska as well as in Brown and Keya Paha counties along the Niobrara River. Paintbrushes are semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants and are nearly impossible to transplant (which explains my failures at this enterprise). They are supposed to be easier to grow from seed. In Nebraska Downy Paintbrush thrives early in the growing season and by late summer dessicates and becomes nearly impossible to find (or feed on as a larva). Likewise the Fulvia Checkerspot has been found from late April into mid July, flying in two and perhaps three generations. Half grown larvae overwinter.
Citizen Science – There are records of this butterfly from some locations with very few plants (Niobrara Valley Preserve, two Fulvia records but I have never seen the plant there, and the Olson Nature Preserve in Boone county – been there several times without seeing the plant). Based on this I would not be surprised to find Fulvia populations anywhere the plant is found. I have seen the plant in abundance at Happy Jack Peak/Scotia Chalk Mine (but no butterflies that particular day). Searching bluffs along the Missouri River might also prove fruitful. In addition winds can disperse this butterfly out of its breeding colonies. Doug Long used to find Fulvia Checkerspots in his yard in Holbrook (Furnas county) after they were blown off the hilltops south of town. If you should happen onto this unique butterfly please let us know at NebraskaButterflies@gmail.com. Happy hunting!!