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Butterfly Issue

refer to caption
13-cent Checkerspot single

On June 6, 1977, the United States Postal Service issued four 13-cent stamps as a se-tenant Butterfly issue, illustrating butterflies from different geographic areas within the United States. Designed by Stanley Galli, the stamp depicts a swallowtail (Scott 1712), checkerspot (Scott 1713), dogface (Scott 1714), and orangetip (Scott 1715).

The multicolored 13-cent issue was printed on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing seven-color Andreotti gravure press (601) as sheets of two hundred subjects, tagged, perforated 11, and distributed as panes of fifty (five across and ten down). Mr. Zip, “MAIL EARLY IN THE DAY,” electric eye markings, and six plate numbers, one in each color used to print the sheet, are printed in the selvage.

The swallowtail (Papilio oregonius) is found from southern British Columbia, eastern Washington and Oregon, to Idaho and western Montana. The upper side of its hind wing near the tail has reddish-orange eyespot with black along the lower border; the edges of the hind wing and body are hairy. On July 16, 1979, the Oregon swallowtail was adopted as Oregon's state insect.

The checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) has a dark brown body or thorax, a color which extends to its wings, spotted white and then orange on their edges. It has hairy forelegs too short for walking. The prominent knobs on its antennae are a trait of this butterfly family. The checkerspot is found in wet meadows in woodlands in the Northeast, sphagnum bogs in Lake States, and hillsides and drier ridges in open mixed hardwoods in Ozarks. It ranges from southeast Manitoba to Nova Scotia and south to Nebraska, Arkansas, and Georgia. The Baltimore checkerspot was adopted as Maryland's state insect in 1973.

The black outer half of the male dogface’s (Colias eurydice) forewing encloses a yellow-orange 'dog's head' tinged with light purple iridescence and a black 'eye' very near or touching the border. The hind wing is yellow-orange, sometimes with a black border. Females are yellow with a black upper forewing cell spot, sometimes with scattered black scaling on the outer half. The dogface is found in foothills, chaparral, oak or coniferous woodlands of north central California, south to Baja California, west of the central mountains and deserts.

The upper side of the orangetip (Anthocharis midea) male’s forewing is orange with a hooked tip; females also have a hooked tip but lack orange. Both have a round black spot in the cell. The underside of the hind wing has finely-patterned green marbling. Found in open, wet woods along waterways, open swamps, occasionally dry woods and ridge tops, the orangetip ranges from southern New England southwest to south Texas, north to eastern Oklahoma and Kansas.


  • Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers
  • shgresources.com/or/symbols/insect/ (accessed May 16, 2006)
  • shgresources.com/md/symbols/ (accessed May 16, 2006)
  • npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/ca/725.htm (accessed May 16, 2006)
  • npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/ny/761.htm (accessed May 16, 2006)

Doug D'Avino

About U.S. Stamps