Common Alpine - Erebia epipsodea
[From Ferris and Brown 1981, Scott 1986, Glassberg 2001, Pyle 2002] Forewing 2.2-2.4 cm. Uniform dark brown base color dorsally, sometimes lighter gay underneath, with irregular burnt-orange patches on both wings, all wings with two to four submarginal black eyespots with white centers, eyespots on ventral surface sometimes encircled by burnt-orange, especially on the forewings.
One flight; mostly June at lower elevations and in Saskatchewan, mid-July to early August at higher elevations near and above treeline; late June to July in Alaska; early May to early August in Washington and Oregon (Scott 1986, Guppy and Shepard 2001, Pyle 2002).
Determined by combination of dark brown upperside with two to four burnt-orange forewing patches (visible dorsally and ventrally) enclosing two to four submarginal eyespots (the largest two often black with white centers), hindwing blackish-brown underneath with small submarginal eyespots surrounded by orange patches. The only alpine with well-developed hindwing eyespots.
From Alaska south to northern Oregon in the Cascades, northern New Mexico in the Rocky Mountains west of the Great Plains, and east across southern Canada to western Manitoba (Scott 1986, Glassberg 2001, Pyle 2002). Statewide in Montana except the eastern third (Kohler 1980, Stanford and Opler 1993). From 2130 m to at least 3650 m elevation in Colorado (Ferris and Brown 1981), 610 m to least 2440 m elevation in Oregon and Washington (James and Nunnallee 2011). Uncommon to common (Glassberg 2001).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Non-migratory; marked individuals moving up to 13 km (Scott 1986, Pyle 2002).
Montane meadows and grasslands, wet meadows, above treeline in alpine tundra and wetlands (Ferris and Brown 1981, Scott 1986, Pyle 2002). In xeric meadows in Glacier National Park, meadows, bogs, and sagebrush flats with aspen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Debinski 1993, Debinski and Pritchard 2002).
Larval food plants include various grasses (Poa, Setaria) and sedges, although larval preferences in the wild not yet determined (James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Achillia, Allium, Arnica, Barbarea, Caltha, Cerastium, Cryptantha, Erigeron, Erioganum, Geranium, Helianthus, Medicago, Physocarpus, Polygonum, Rubus, Saxifraga, Sedum, Senecio, Solidago, Symphoricarpos, and Taraxacum; adults also feed at mud (Scott 1986, 2014).
Females lay up to 60 eggs on live grass. Number of eggs per oviarole (1/8 of total) about 30 (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1978). Eggs hatch in 8-10 days (depending on temperature), L1 instar completed in 10 days, 10-35 days in L2 (depending on temperature), enter diapause (overwinter) as L3 or L4 instars. Overwintering larvae seek refuge at base of grasses where they may settle in a grassy tuft and make a loose cocoon, although no nest is constructed (Ferris and Brown 1981, Pyle 2002, James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day over wet grassy meadows and swales in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Debinski, D. 1993. Butterflies of Glacier National Park, Montana. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History, the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. No. 159: 1-13.
- Debinski, D.M. and J.A. Pritchard. 2002. A field guide to the butterflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publishers. 107 p.
- Ehrlich, A.H. and P.R. Ehrlich. 1978. Reproductive strategies in the butterflies: I. Mating frequency, plugging, and egg number. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 51(4): 666-697.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
- James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Bird, C.D., G.I. Hilchie, N.G. Kondla, E.M. Pike, and F.A.H. Sperling. 1995. Alberta Butterflies. The Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton. 349 pp.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
- Caruthers, J.C., and D. Debinski. 2006. Montane meadow butterfly species distributions in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. University of Wyoming National Park Service Research Center Annual Report, 2006. Vol. 30, Art. 14. 85-96.
- Debinski, D.M., R.E. VanNimwegen, and M.E. Jakubauskas. 2006. Quantifying relationships between bird and butterfly community shifts and environmental change. Ecological Applications 16(1): 380-393.
- Kondla, N.G. 1996. Clarification of some butterfly type localities. Alberta Naturalist, 26, pp.39-41.
- Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
- Opler, P.A., K. Lotts, and T. Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and moths of North America. Big Sky Institute, Bozeman, MT. Available at: www.butterfliesandmoths.org (Accessed 15 June 2015).
- Sater, S. 2022. The insects of Sevenmile Creek, a pictorial guide to their diversity and ecology. Undergraduate Thesis. Helena, MT: Carroll College. 242 p.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Insects"