North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Washington

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

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.
Great Arctic (Oeneis nevadensis)
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