Pale Crescent (Phyciodes pallidus) (W.H. Edwards, 1864)

Diagnosis: The lightest of the crescents on the upperside, this species is also one of the largest (wingspan: 33 to 44 mm). The pale orange colouring is predominant with narrow black wing borders and a prominent black spot on the rear margin of the forewing above and below. The underside is yellowish with rusty markings and a prominent silver crescent on the hindwing border.

Subspecies: Only subspecies barnesi is found in Canada.

Range: This species flies in the dry mountainous areas of the western U.S. Most Canadian records are from arid areas in the interior of British Columbia such as the Okanagan Valley.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Mylitta Crescent (P. mylitta) is similar but smaller and lacks the prominent black spot of the Pale Crescent near the middle of the lower margin of the forewing on both the upper and underside of the forewing. [compare images]

Early Stages: The spiny larva is ochre with brown bands along the body. Unlike most crescents, it does not feed on asters, but on thistles (Cirsium spp.).

Abundance: This species is local and uncommon in British Columbia.

Flight Season: Most records from British Columbia are in June.

Habits: Phyciodes pallidus is usually found in dry fields, streambeds, and gulches (Tilden and Smith, 1986).

Remarks: In earlier literature, pallidus was referred to as a subspecies of the Mylitta Crescent, which is similar and also feeds as a larva on thistles.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.