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Mylitta Crescent Butterfly

Natural History

Mylitta crescent butterflies look somewhat like tiny fritillary butterflies on the upper side of the wing, except that they have a row of orange crescents within a brown-black margin along the edge of their wings. The butterflies have a wingspan of 1-1/8 to 1-1/2 inch. The underside is yellow-orange with somewhat blurry rusty orange markings. Mylitta Crescents are relatively common having a range that extends from southern British Columbia southeast through the Rocky Mountain region to Mexico; and are also found in Washington, Oregon, and California. They inhabit a variety of ecosystems including mountains, fields, meadows, vacant lots, parks, and fencerows at elevations from sea level to 8000 feet.

Crescent butterflies are named for the crescent shaped patterns on their wings.

Mylitta Crescent Butterfly caterpillars are adapted mainly to thistles as their food plant while adult butterflies live on the nectar of their thistle hosts and an assortment of native and introduced flowering plants. Males can often be found perching or patrolling near host plants for females. After mating, females deposit eggs on underside of the host plant leaves.

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