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Butterflies of North America -- Oeneis nevadensis

North American Butterflies and Moths List

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

The Registry of Nature Habitats

U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Great Arctic (Oeneis nevadensis)

Great Arctic (Oeneis nevadensis [Felder & Felder])

Wing span: 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches (5.7 - 6.3 cm).

Identification: Upperside is yellowish-tan with brown borders; forewing has 1 or 2 eyespots, hindwing usually has 1 spot. Male forewing has a long patch of dark sex scales. Underside of forewing is similar to the upperside; hindwing is mottled gray and brown with an indistinct median band.

Life history: Males perch all day in valley glades and on hilltops to seek females. Eggs are laid on dry grasses. Caterpillars require 2 years to complete development; hibernating as young caterpillars the first winter, and as mature ones the second winter. Pupation takes place at roots of grasses or under rocks.

Flight: One brood from May-July.

Caterpillar hosts: Probably grasses.

Adult food: Not reported.

Habitat: Coniferous forest openings, rocky hills, and meadow edges in the mountains.

Range: Vancouver Island, British Columbia south in the Cascade Mountains and the Sierra Nevada to Tulare County, California; south along the coast to Sonoma County, California.

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.


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

Great Arctic (Oeneis nevadensis)
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