Philip's Arctic (Oeneis rosovi) (Kurentzov 1960)

Diagnosis: The upperside is dark grey brown, generally with small orange patches near the wing margin. There is usually a faint eye-spot on the underside of the forewing, and sometimes a trace of this spot on the upperside. The hindwing underside has a dark grey-brown median band with contrasting hoary grey shading basal and distal to it. The marginal quarter of the wing is pale grey brown with darker brown striations. Wingspan: 42 to 52 mm.

Range: Oeneis rosovi occurs in northern British Columbia (Pink Mountain and Stone Mountain Provincial Park), in central Yukon, at Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and westward through Alaska to eastern Siberia.

Similar Species: Very similar to the Polixenes Arctic (O. polixenes). These two species are easily separated by habitat: rosovi occurs in spruce bogs; polixenes occurs on dry, grassy steppe-like tundra. [compare images]

Early Stages: Only the first-instar larva is known; it feeds on cotton-grass (Eriophorum spp.).

Abundance: This is a very local species but can be common.

Flight Season: Mid-June to early July (one record from late May).

Habits: Philip's Arctic, unlike its close relatives, usually flies in open spruce bogs with a behaviour similar to that of the Jutta Arctic (O. jutta). It often lands on tree trunks and flies high into the tree tops when alarmed.

Remarks: This species was previously known as Oeneis philipi in North America and eastern Siberia. Examination of the Kurentzov's original type specimen in Vladivostok, Russia, showed that Oeneisrosovi is the same species.

© 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.