North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Massachusetts

Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)
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Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta [Cramer])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 7/8 inches (3.2 - 4.8 cm).

Identification: Antennal clubs of male are orange. Females are darker than males. Upperside is orange-brown with dark borders; median orange-brown areas are mostly open, with few dark markings. Underside of hindwing is orange with a tan patch surrounding the pale marginal crescent.

Life history: All day long, males patrol near the host plants for receptive females. Eggs are laid in bunches of about 40 on the underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars eat leaves, and young ones live and feed communally. Third-stage caterpillars hibernate.

Flight: One brood from June-July, perhaps two broods in southern Canada.

Caterpillar hosts: Asters, in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of dogbane, fleabane, and white clover.

Habitat: Moist open areas in rocky places, wooded streams, marsh edges, and shale barrens.

Range: Newfoundland and northern New England west across the Great Lake states and southern Canada to British Columbia; south in the western mountains to Utah, southeast Arizona, and southern New Mexico; south in the Appalachians to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Conservation: Some geographically restricted subspecies and unnamed populations should be monitored, managed, or preserved.

Management needs: Maintain habitat integrity, host plant colonies, and nectar sources.


Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns 
     Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.

Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson 
     field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, 
     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Glassberg,  J.  1993.  Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to 
     Butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington Region.  Oxford Univ. 
     Press, New York, N.Y.  160 pp. 

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)
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