northern crescent

(Phyciodes cocyta)

Conservation Status
northern crescent
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern crescent is a medium sized brushfoot butterfly. It has a wingspan of 1 to 1. It is very common in Minnesota.

The upperside of the both wings is orange with a broad black border and a black-and-white fringe. There is a small to large patch in the basal area that is is mostly black with many fine, pale specks. The female is larger, darker, and more extensively marked than the male.

The upperside of the forewing has four irregular black patches: a subapical patch that merges with the black border; a submarginal patch near the inner margin that merges with the black border; a median patch on the leading (costal) margin; and a median patch on the inner margin. On most individuals, a black jagged line separates the median area from the postmedian area and widens into an irregular black patch near the costal margin. On the female, the median area is yellowish-orange. There are jagged lines in the discal area that form one or two outer and a row of inner orange spots with black borders.

The upperside of the hindwing has a submarginal row if pale, crescent-shaped spots within the black border. There is a broad, open, median and postmedian area with row of small black spots and jagged, interrupted, postmedian line. Jagged lines in the discal area create three rows of irregular orange spots with black borders.

The underside of the forewing is orange with pale orange costal and apical areas; thin, jagged, dark orange lines; and two ill-defined black patches near the costal margin.

The underside of the hindwing is pale orange with thin, jagged, dark orange lines; an ill-defined, dark orange patch near the costal margin, and a dark brown patch near the trailing edge. On females, the pale areas are orangish-yellow and the lines are more highly contrasted.

The antennae are black and white striped. The antenna clubs are black and white striped with an orange tip. The legs are orangish-yellow.

The caterpillar is up to ¾ long and dark brown with numerous tiny white spots. The spots are the expanded base of the hairs (seta). On the thorax and each abdominal segment there is a short, branched spine (scolus) in the middorsal, subdorsal, supraspiracular, spiracular, and subspiracular regions. The base of the scolus is rounded, wart-like, reddish-orange, and shiny. There is a broken white line in the subdorsal and subspiracular areas that extends onto the head.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 1 to 1

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) has a smaller speckled black area on the wing uppersides near the body. The hindwing postmedian line is continuous and unbroken. There is a pearly white spot in the brown patch in the underside of the hindwing. The flight season begins in May.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Meadows, fields, streamsides, roadsides, and other moist open spaces.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Two broods: June to early July, and August to mid-September

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Young caterpillars feed in groups but do not create nests.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The male patrols near host plants in search of a receptive female. After mating, the female lays green eggs on the underside of aster leaves in a raft of usually about 40 but as few as 20 to as many as 300. The second brood overwinters as a third-stage caterpillar.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

White panicle aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum), smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve), and other asters (Symphyotrichum spp.).

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar of spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium), white clover (Trifolium repens), fleabane (Erigeron spp.), thistle (Cirsium spp.), and aster (Symphyotrichum spp.).

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 20, 21, 24, 29, 71.

 
  8/7/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Very common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])  
 

Family

Nymphalidae (brush-foots)  
 

Subfamily

Nymphalinae (true brushfoots)  
 

Tribe

Melitaeini  
  Subtribe Phyciodina  
 

Genus

Phyciodes  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

diminutive northern crescent (Phyciodes cocyta diminutor)

mimic crescent (Phyciodes cocyta incognitus)

northern crescent (Phyciodes cocyta cocyta)

northern crescent (Phyciodes cocyta pascoensis)

northern crescent (Phyciodes cocyta selenis) (?)

Steptoe Valley checkerspot (Phyciodes cocyta arenacolor)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Phyciodes selenis

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

northern crescent

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.

 

Pupa

The life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. In caterpillars, the chrysalis.

 

Scolus

A spiny, branched projection from a larval body wall, the branches terminating with a single stiff, hair-like or bristle-like tip.

 

Seta

A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like structure on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.

 

Spiracle

A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Lynn Rubey

 
  The female Northern Crescent Butterfly settled on this blade of grass for a short time. Females are darker than males and only recently been recognized as a seperate species.   northern crescent  
           
  Northern Crescent Butterfly at the Big Stone Wildlife Refuge   northern crescent  
 

Luciearl

 
    northern crescent      
 

Alfredo Colon

 
    northern crescent      
 

Tom Baker

 
    northern crescent      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Upper Side

 
    northern crescent   northern crescent  
           
    northern crescent   northern crescent  
           
    northern crescent   northern crescent  
           
 

Underside

 
    northern crescent   northern crescent  
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Northern Crescent
DianesDigitals
  Northern Crescent  
 
About

Copyright DianesDigitals

Phyciodes selenis

 
Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)  
Phyciodes selenis (Northern Crescent)
Allen Chartier
  Phyciodes selenis (Northern Crescent)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Northern Crescent (Nympahlidae: Phyciodes cocyta) on Ground
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 17, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (16 June 2010).

 
  Northern Crescent (Nymphalidae: Phyciodes cocyta) on Gravel
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 8, 2010

Photographed at the Glacial Ridge NWR, Minnesota (07 July 2010).

 
  Northern Crescent Butterfly
MrHamburgerHelper
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 30, 2011

Gorgeous Northern Crescent Butterfly flapping its wings.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Lynn Rubey
8/4/2019

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

The female Northern Crescent Butterfly settled on this blade of grass for a short time. Females are darker than males and only recently been recognized as a seperate species.

northern crescent  
  Luciearl
6/10/2019

Location: Cass County

northern crescent  
  Lynn Rubey
9/7/2018

Location: Big Stone Wildlife Refuge

Northern Crescent Butterfly

northern crescent  
  Alfredo Colon
8/31/2018

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

northern crescent  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

Binoculars


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