Phyciodes cocyta
Northern Crescen

Family Description:
This species is not recognized by all authors; some consider it to be part of either P. tharos or P. morpheus.

Caterpillar: The caterpillar is brown to reddish brown to black, dotted with white to yellowish white, striped lengthwise with offwhite, and covered with branching spines tipped with white.
Adult: This is a medium-sized butterfly, with a wingspan of 1 1/4 to 1 7/8 inches. The upperside is mostly orange, marked with brown to black; females tend to be darker than males. The forewing has irregularly shaped patches of black and a black border; there may be thin or thick wavy lines of black near the body. The hindwing is orange, marked with black, wavy lines near the body, a black border, and possibly a curved row of black spots just in from the edge. Underneath, the forewing is orange to brown and marked with black and offwhite; the hindwing is yellowish to orange, marked with brownish lines and a single, whitish crescent-shaped spot near the edge.

This species ranges from the Yukon Territory southeast across lower Canada to Newfoundland, and south into the U.S. along the Rockies to Arizona and New Mexico, and along the Appalachians to Virginia. In Idaho, it occurs in the panhandle, central, and eastern portions of the state.


It occurs in open and moist areas, such as meadows, fields, and valley bottoms.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars feed on various species of aster (Aster spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.


There is typically only one generation of caterpillars each year. Young caterpillars feed in groups, and eat the undersides of leaves. Third-stage caterpillars overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from June through July in most of its range.


Males actively patrol in search of receptive females. Females lay groups of green eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank:

G5; most populations are widespread, abundant, and secure. However, certain isolated subspecies may require monitoring and preservation.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies. Second Edition. Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.