Deer in Spring Landscape

Olympia Marble

photo of Olympia Marble
Olympia Marble, Euchloe Olympia
Photograph by D. Daniel Boone

This butterfly, named for its marbled wing pattern, graces the arid shale barrens of Western Maryland from mid-April through mid-May. These shale barrens provide habitat for several species of rock cress (Arabis spp.), plants upon which Olympia marble caterpillars feed. The adult butterflies are attracted to the nectar of rock cress, bluets, and phlox, which are also found on the shale barrens.

This butterfly is the Euchloe found east of the Rockies. The center of this species’ distribution is the Midwest. There are three distinct and widely separated populations of the Olympia marble, with the easternmost located in the central Appalachians. The butterfly’s range is quite restricted in the mountains, and its future in Maryland depends upon adequately maintaining the health of its rare shale barren habitat.

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