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Northern Pearly-eye (Lethe anthedon)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Northern Pearly-eye

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image of the Northern-Pearly-Eye-Butterfly Thumbnail image of the Northern-Pearly-Eye-Butterfly
Image Credit: Gary R. from South Burlington, VT
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Image Credit: Gary R. from South Burlington, VT
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Image Credit: Gary R. from South Burlington, VT
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Multiple dark eyespots on the underside of the wing and the curvature of its brown lines are key to recoginzing this particular Pearly-eye.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Like a bright pearl in an oyster, the black eyespots of a Pearly-eye butterfly have a small white pupil in the center. The Northern Pearly-eye has yellow rings around its eyespots. Four of them are on the forewing; six more are on the hindwing, the first of which is larger and more forward, out of line with the others. Brown lines, like a watermark, cross the wings closer to the body, and even highlight some veins. The Creole Pearly-eye looks similar to this species, but has five eyespots on the forewing and a brown line that reaches out toward the eyespots. The Northern Pearly-eye's brown line does not. The Northern also has black tips on its antennae. The top side of the wings is muted brown and while the eyespots are visible on that side, too, they lack the pearly pupil.

The caterpillars of this species feed on grasses. Though adults do not drink flower nectar, they do take liquids from tree sap, rotting animals, fungi, and even moist feces. Look for them nears forests and in grasslands.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Lethe
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            Species: anthedon
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lethe anthedon
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 45mm to 67mm (1.77" to 2.63")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; tan; black; yellow; blue; white; ivory
Descriptors: black-tip antennae; ten eyespots; black dot; yellow ring; flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 45mm (1.8in) and 67mm (2.6in)
Lo: 45mm
Md: 56mm
Hi: 67mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Northern Pearly-eye may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Northern Pearly-eye. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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