Sentinel Arctic (Oeneis alpina) (Kurentzov, 1960)

Diagnosis: The upperside is orange brown, with the basal two-thirds of both wings darker, especially in the male. There are one to three usually white-centred eyespots on the forewing, usually two on the hindwing, above and below. The hindwing underside is striated dark brown and grey, usually paler near the margin. Wingspan: 36 to 47 mm.

Range: The range of alpina extends in a band across northern Alaska and northern Yukon, south to Keno, and into the Northwest Territories as far east as Ford Lake.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Chryxus Arctic (O. chryxus) is similar, but the two hindwing eye-spots and brown basal two-thirds of the wings distinguish alpina. [compare images]

Early Stages: The early stages and foodplants are unknown.

Abundance: Generally a local, uncommon species, but it can be fairly common in areas where males congregate on hilltops.

Flight Season: Late June to mid-July, tending to be biennial. It flies mainly in even years from the Mackenzie Delta eastward and mainly in odd years farther west.

Habits: Oeneis alpina breeds in wet grassy tundra but is most frequently found on dry rocky hilltops where the males congregate.

Remarks: This species has previously been called Oeneis excubitor Troubridge, Philip, Scott, and Shepard, 1982, in North America, but examination of Kurentzov's original type specimen of Oeneis alpina in Vladivostok, Russia, showed that alpina is the same species as excubitor.

© 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.