Checkered animals take natural striped and spotted camouflage to the next level, proving there are certain advantages to being pawns in the game of life.
Nerite Snails are small (roughly 1/2″ long) sea snails that, depending on the subspecies, can thrive in either fresh or saltwater. This makes them ideal for stocking home aquariums but what really seals the deal with home hobbyists are the many colors and patterns Nerites exhibit on their shells.
(image via: Advanced Aquarist)
The Checkered Nerite Snail (Nerita tessellata) is definitely a fan favorite, displaying offset bands of black and white stripes that form swirling, spiraling checkerboards. In the wild they can be found on rocky shorelines from Brazil through Bermuda and southern Florida. Nerites are prodigious algae-eaters as well, helping keep those glass walls crystal clear – all the better to enjoy their checkered pasts, presents and futures!
Checkered Garter Snake
The Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus) is commonly found in the southern United States (especially southern Texas) down through Mexico and Central America. Unlike its more familiar longitudinally striped cousins, the Checkered Garter Snake features rows of dark squarish blotches that line up with lighter areas in the adjoining rows, giving the snake as a whole a vivid checkerboard appearance.
(image via: CaliforniaHerps)
Another checkered subspecies, Marcy’s Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus marcianus) ranges from far southeastern California through parts of New Mexico in the United States. Checkered Garter Snakes are non-venomous but they do have toxins in their saliva that assist them in subduing their prey. Humans bitten by Checkered Garter Snakes may experience localized irritation if bitten but in general this species is not considered dangerous and is often kept as a pet.
Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
The Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly (Euphydryas phaeton) has been the official state insect (ahem: “official arthropodic emblem”) of Maryland since 1973. In related news, the State of Maryland has had an official state insect since 1973 – your tax dollars at work! The butterfly was chosen by virtue of its prominent black & orange colors and its checkered aspect, both of which complement the colorful checkered fields on the state’s flag and Great Seal.
(image via: Wikipedia/Alison Hunter)
Baltimore Checkerspots are unusual among their butterfly brethren in that the species overwinters in its larval state – as a caterpillar! When cool weather arrives in September, caterpillars will weave a “pre-hibernation” web high up in a tree, crawling out of the web and dropping into the leaf litter below several months later.