California Crescent (Phyciodes orseis [W. H. Edwards])
Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 5/8 inches (3.2 - 4.2 cm).
Identification: Upperside is dark brown with orange-brown markings in distinct bands. Underside is yellow-orange with scattered reddish brown markings.
Life history: Males perch along creeks and in valleys to find females. Eggs are laid in large batches under host plant leaves, which the caterpillars eat. Third-stage caterpillars hibernate.
Flight: One brood from May-June.
Caterpillar hosts: Thistles (Cirsium species) in the sunflower family.
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Mountain valleys, meadows, stream canyons.
Range: Southern Oregon south along the Pacific coast to San Francisco; northern and central Sierra Nevada; western Nevada.
Conservation: Possibly extirpated in California coast ranges; species should be monitored wherever it occurs.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range (21 to 100 occurrences). (Threatened throughout its range).
Management needs: Maintain habitat integrity, host plant colonies, and nectar sources.
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:
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.