North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Washington

Chryxus Arctic (Oeneis chryxus)
JPG -- species photo

Chryxus Arctic (Oeneis chryxus [Doubleday])

Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/8 inches (4.5 - 5.4 cm).

Identification: Upperside is cream to brownish-orange. Forewing has 1-4 small black eyespots near the outer margin; hindwing has 1-2. Male forewing has a dark patch of sex scales. Underside of hindwing has black and white striations, a wide dark median band, veins with white scales, and only 1 black spot near the lower inner margin of the wing.

Life history: Caterpillars require 2 years to complete development; hibernating as young caterpillars the first winter, and as mature ones the second winter.

Flight: One brood from late May-early June every year; may be biennial because it is more numerous in even-numbered years in the Great Lakes region.

Caterpillar hosts: Poverty oat-grass (Danthonia spicata).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Open grassy, rocky, and woodland areas; meadows; alpine tundra.

Range: Southern Alaska and Yukon Territory south through the western mountains to New Mexico; east across Canada to Manitoba. Isolated population in eastern Canada, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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.


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:

Hinchliff, J. 1996. The Distribution of the Butterflies of Washington. 
     Evergreen Aurelians. Oregon State University Bookstore, Corvallis.

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.

Pyle, R.M. 1974. Watching Washington Butterflies. Seattle Audubon Society, 
     Seattle, Wash.

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.
Chryxus Arctic (Oeneis chryxus)
distribution map
map legend

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