Pearl Crescent

Photo of a pearl crescent
Scientific Name
Phyciodes tharos
Nymphalidae (brushfooted butterflies)

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.


Wingspan: 1–1½ inches.

Where To Find
image of Pearl Crescent Distribution Map


Commonly found in open areas, including grasslands, pastures, woodland openings, and lawns. One of the most common butterflies in eastern North America, it is found in all regions of Missouri from April through November. The pearl crescent is active and combative, frequently darting at other species that invade its territory.

Larvae feed on various aster species. The adults are avid flower visitors and sometimes fairly swarm at puddles and damp places.

Abundant breeding resident.

Life Cycle

Adults fly from early April through November. Eggs are laid in clusters of up to 200 under the leaves of the food plant. Larvae that occur in late season hibernate.

In addition to their considerable aesthetic value, butterflies pollinate plants, many of which have commercial importance. Additionally, because butterflies are sensitive to toxins and disturbance, they are good indicators of the overall status of ecosystems.

The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators.

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About Butterflies and Moths in Missouri
Butterflies, skippers, and moths belong to an insect order called the Lepidoptera — the "scale-winged" insects. These living jewels have tiny, overlapping scales that cover their wings like shingles. The scales, whether muted or colorful, seem dusty if they rub off on your fingers. Many butterflies and moths are associated with particular types of food plants, which their caterpillars must eat in order to survive.
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