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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Alberta Arctic - Oeneis alberta

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status


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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981, Guppy and Shepard 2001] Forewing length 2.2-2.6 cm. The smallest of the arctics. Adults light brown or gray; usually several eyespots on dorsal forewing, none or one on dorsal hindwing; ventral hindwing across middle with irregular band with dark edges; line crossing ventral forewing projects sharply towards wing margin about 1/3 of the distance posteriorly from front edge of wing; wings thin, the underside marking visible from upperside.

One flight, from May to mid June (Scott 1986, Guppy and Shepard 2001, Acorn and Sheldon 2006).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Most like Oeneis uhleri, but O. alberta is smaller, has a pointed postmedian line on the ventral forewing, no orange on the ventral forewing, tends to be grayish in color with a strong and dark ventral hindwing band, with one small eyespot (sometimes absent) on the dorsal hindwing.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
From extreme eastern British Columbia (Peace River) south along the Rocky Mountains to southern Arizona and northern New Mexico, east to western North Dakota and southern Manitoba (Scott 1986, Guppy and Shepard 2001); 2743 m to 3200 m in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978). In Montana, reported from northern and central counties east of the continental divide (Kohler 1980; Shepard and Opler 1993) to at least 1981 m elevation (Kohler 1978). Locally rare to locally common (Glassberg 2001).

Primarily in dry montane grassland, prairie bunchgrass hills, seldom in open woodlands (Ferris and Brown 1981, Scott 1986). In Montana, reported from montane grassland (Kohler 1978).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include bunchgrass (Festuca); larvae eat the leaves (Scott 1986, 1992). In addition to flower nectar, adults sip mud (Scott 1986, 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Scant information. Eggs apparently laid singly on grass stems; larvae feed on grass leaves at least in captivity. Probably hibernates as mature larvae (possibly as pupae) with a two-year life cycle, although this not confirmed (Scott 1979, 1986, 1992). Males perch, and often patrol less than 10 m, throughout the day, usually in swales among bunchgrass, to encounter females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

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Citation for data on this website:
Alberta Arctic — Oeneis alberta.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from