North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Montana

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pratensis)
JPG -- species photo

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pratensis [Behr])

Wing span: 1 - 1 3/4 inches (2.5 - 4.5 cm).

Identification: Upperside is orange and black. Underside of forewing is yellow-brown with a yellow bar at the cell and small black patches on the inner margin. Underside of hindwing is yellow-brown with rusty markings.

Life history: Males patrol just above vegetation during the day. Females lay eggs in large batches on underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars feed on leaves; young ones sometimes live in a loose web. Partially-grown caterpillars hibernate.

Flight: One flight from June-August in the mountains and far north, two flights from May-September on plains, three or four flights from April-October in lowland California.

Caterpillar hosts: Various asters (Aster and Machaeranthera species).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Flats and open areas, fields, meadows, and streamsides from plains to mountains.

Range: Central Alaska and northern Canada south to southern California, southern Arizona, and southern New Mexico; east to the western edge of the Great Plains.

Conservation: Not usually required.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None reported.

Note:Formerly referred to as Phyciodes campestris. Recently referred to as Phyciodes pulchellus, possibly erroneously.


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:

Elrod, M.J. 1906. The Butterflies of Montana. Bulletin of the University of
     Montana 30: 1-174.

Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1980. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. 
     University of Oklahoma Press. Norman.

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 

Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 
     Privately published, Denver, Colo.

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.
Field Crescent (Phyciodes pratensis)
distribution map
map legend

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