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Montana Field Guides

Polixenes Arctic - Oeneis polixenes


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 2.1-2.5 cm. Wings relatively translucent, forewing usually without eyespots. Upper surface gray to brown; undersurface of hindwing with median band usually stongly developed and edged with white, veins whitened.

Phenology
One flight; mostly late June to early August, mid-June to July in the Arctic, July to mid-August in Labrador and Alberta. Alternate years most places, every year in Colorado (Scott 1986). Mid-June to early August (Glassberg 2001); July and August in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by the undersurface of hindwing with median band usually stongly developed and edged with white, veins whitened.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Arctic North America, south along Rocky Mountains discontinuously in the west to to northern New Mexico, in the east to eastern Quebec and Mount Katahdin in central Maine (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); above 3355 m elevation to at least 3965 m elevation in Wyoming and Colorado (Ferris and Brown 1981). Hypothetical in Montana; reported from Carbon County sometime prior to 1950 but no records since then (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database). Locally rare (Glassberg 2001).

Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Alpine and arctic tundra, especially moist or wet hummocky sites, rocky ridgelines (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001). Habitat for Montana not described but probably similar.

Food Habits
Larval food plants include Carex, Festuca, Helictotricon; Poa in captivity (Scott 1986, 1992). Adults occasionally feed on flower nectar, including Arenaria, Dryas, and Haplopappus (Scott 1986, 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Limited information. Females lay eggs (singly?) on pebbles and rocks, litter, or dead plant material near host plant. Larvae grow slowly, overwinter twice before pupation and adult eclosion. Overwinter first year as L1 (possibly L2-L3) instar, second year as L4 or L5 instar (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992). Males patrol throughout the day in grassy swales and over north-facing slopes in search of females, sometimes perch in swales and hummocky areas to wait for females to pass (Scott 1975b, 1986).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Polixenes Arctic — Oeneis polixenes.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from