In adult pearl crescents, the wing pattern varies, but all have orange wings with black borders with fine black markings. The common name comes from a crescent-shaped, light-colored spot surrounded by a darker patch on the outer edge of the hindwing, viewed from below. The first pair of legs are short, hairy-looking, and useless for walking.
Larvae are brownish-black with light dots, yellow lateral stripes, and yellowish-brown spines. The head is black with a pale spot in front.