New Jersey Butterflies

Common Sootywing

(Pholisora catullus)

Identification: Very small—1.1". Above: FW and HW black with many tiny white spots on outer FW (and on top of head). Below: FW and HW dark brown with white spots near tip of FW; HW usually unmarked.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Uncommon, though occasionally locally common.

NJ Range Map-Common Sootywing

Habitat: Mainly open, sunny, disturbed habitats such as the edges of agricultural fields where its food plant grows.

Flight Period: Two or three broods, peaking May into June, and July into August, with a smaller brood from late August into September. Extreme dates: South Jersey 4/14-9/23.

Larval Food Plants: Mainly Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album), which is the commonest Chenopodium in NJ, but possibly other species in this genus as well.

Overwintering Stage: Larva.

Best Locations: Just about any open, disturbed habitat throughout the state

Comments: This is a very small species that is easily missed as it flies weakly near the ground through obscuring vegetation. Partial to dry, sandy, or loamy soils where its host plant thrives. Occupies the same habitat as the similar Hayhurst's Scallopwing, which lacks white spots on top of head, and has gold and silver flecking on uppersides.

Common Sootywing

Frankford Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 9/9/11.

Common Sootywing

Wallkill River WMA, Sussex Co., NJ, 7/9/06.