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Montana Field Guides

Pale Crescent - Phyciodes pallida


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.9-2.3 cm. Overall light in ground color and density of markings, females more strongly marked than males; forewing outer margin angled, antennae knobs orange. Uppersurface orange with irregular patterns of black marks and spots, female with yellow-orange median band; undersurface of forewing with squarish black patch in center of rear margin next to hindwing (also visible on unpper surface), undersurface of hindwing with submarginal row of creamy spots especially pronounced in females, pearly crescent on margin large and lightly haloed with brown.

Phenology
One flight; mostly late May to June, late April to mid-June in Oregon (Scott 1986). Mid-April to mid-June in the Pacific Northwest, June to August in Colorado (Glassberg 2001); late April to late June in Oregon (Warren 2005); mid-April to early-August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002); mid-May to early July in British Columbia (Guppy and Shaepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by combination of undersurface of forewing with squarish black patch in center of rear margin next to hindwing (also visible on uppersurface), undersurface of hindwing with submarginal row of creamy spots especially pronounced in females, pearly crescent on hindwing margin large and lightly haloed with brown.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Southern British Columbia south in the Cascades to northern Oregon, in the Rockies and Great Basin ranges to southern Nevada, central Arizona, Utah, and southwestern Colorado, east to to central Montana and the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota and extreme northwestern Nebraska (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to at least 1220 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005). In Montana, reported from most of the western 1/2 of the state, excluding the counties in the northwestern corner (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Rare to locally uncommon in the Pacific Northwest, locally uncommon to common in Colorado (Glassberg 2001).

Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Dry prairie and foothill gullies, roadsides, streambeds, hillsides, woodland openings (Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005). Habitat in Montana not described, but likely similar.

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Cirsium (Scott 1992, 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Barbarea, Ceanothus, Erigeron, Erioganum, Grindelia, Heterotheca, Lupinus, Medicago, Melilotus, Potentilla, Rudbeckia, Sedum, Senecio, Sisymbrium, Solidago, Taraxacum) and mud (Warren 2005; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs in large clusters (54-120 eggs per cluster) on the undersides of host plant leaves (Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 8-9 days, non-diapausing L1 larvae develop to L5 instars and pupate at about 34 days post egg-hatch; adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 10-18 days (all depending on temperature). Diapause (overwintering) occurs as L4 instar, seek refuge in curled leaves. Early larval instars live communally in loosely-woven silk nests, feed between surfaces layers within leaves. Older instars remain on leaf surface; pupae pendant on or near host plant (Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Scott 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch throughout the day about 1 m above ground on shrubs or other objects in low areas, awaiting passing females; rarely patrol in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Pale Crescent — Phyciodes pallida.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from