North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Wyoming

Polixenes Arctic (Oeneis polixenes)
JPG -- species photo

Polixenes Arctic (Oeneis polixenes [Fabricius])

Wing span: 1 5/8 - 2 1/8 inches (4.2 - 5.4 cm).

Identification: Wings are somewhat translucent. Upperside is gray-brown; male has no markings, female may have 2 small black eyespots. Underside of hindwing is mottled gray, brown, and black and has a distinct median band outlined in white.

Life history: Males patrol and occasionally perch during the day in grassy swales to seek females. Two years are required to complete development; the first winter is passed by first-stage caterpillars, the second winter by mature caterpillars.

Flight: One brood from mid-June to early August.

Caterpillar hosts: Grasses and sedges.

Adult food: Occasionally flower nectar.

Habitat: Open wet tundra.

Range: Alaska east through the North American arctic to Baffin Island, Labrador, eastern Quebec, and central Maine. Isolated populations in the Rocky Mountains south to northern New Mexico.

Conservation: Not usually required. Subspecies katahdin on Mt. Katahdin, Maine is geographically restricted but may not be of concern.

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: Determine status on Mt. Katahdin, Maine and monitor periodically.


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:

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

Ferris, C.D. 1971. An Annotated Checklist of the Rhopalocera [Butterflies] of 
     Wyoming. University of Wyoming Agriculture Experiment Station Science 
     Monograph 23: 1-75.   

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.
Polixenes Arctic (Oeneis polixenes)
distribution map
map legend

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