Monday, October 12, 2009

Nature Guide: Pearl Crescent

The bright orange and black Pearl Crescent, a butterfly we described in spring, can still be seen around Princeton Landing in autumn. Our Nature Guide Jon Latimer tells us more about it. (Click on the photos to see a larger image.)

"The Pearl Crescent is a small butterfly with a wingspan of between 1 1/4 and 1 5/8 inches. Its color pattern is quite variable. The upper side of its wings is orange and brown crossed by fine black marks, and has a black border. You may also notice a distinctive dark patch containing a light-colored crescent on the underside of its back wing.

"Pearl Crescents feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, especially asters. They are most often found flying alone in weedy open areas such as pastures or vacant lots, or along roadsides, but they sometimes gather in groups near puddles. Pearl Crescents constantly patrol their area, flying low to the ground and often gliding. They will sometimes approach you quite closely, even landing on you for a moment.

"Pearl Crescents have several broods from April to November in our area, and throughout the year farther south. During winter in the North they hibernate as caterpillars. A Pearl Crescent caterpillar is dark chocolate brown with brown spines and white patches on its head."