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Pearl Crescent Butterfly (Phyciodes tharos)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Pearl Crescent Butterfly

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Image Credit: Eric B. from Denton County, TX
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Image Credit: Arch Baker
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Image Credit: Eric B. from Denton County, TX
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Image Credit: Meg
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The small white crescent moon on the underside of the fore wing of the Pearl Crescent Butterfly is a helpful feature for identifying it.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Color variations within the species of Pearl Crescent butterflies are usual, though all tend to stick with the orange and brown color scheme with black markings. The small white crescent mark is seen when the butterfly has its wings raised up. This mark stands out because it is almost completely surrounded by dark brown patches. Each black and white banded antenna ends in an orange club or ball. The Pearl Crescent is very popular and quite familiar in eastern North America, but it is also found in the west as well.

Larvae feed on aster plants. The caterpillar is brown and has yellow rings on it as well as loads of spiky hairs. Adults can be seen most anywhere: fields, roadsides, forest clearings, near creeks or streams, and in gardens and backyards. They fly low to the ground and alternate between flapping their wings and gliding when in flight.

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


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Phyciodes
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            Species: tharos
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Phyciodes tharos
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 38mm (0.98" to 1.49")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; black; brown; yellow; white; gray; blue
Descriptors: flying

Pearl-Crescent-Butterfly Video(s)

A weathered Gulf Fritillary Butterfly taking coneflower nectar.

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 38mm (1.5in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 31.5mm
Hi: 38mm
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 Pearl Crescent Butterfly 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 Pearl Crescent Butterfly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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