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crescent1

Pearl Crescents (Phyciodes tharos) are small, round-winged orange and black butterflies of the Nymphalidae, or brush-footed butterfly family. Brush-footed refers to the fact that the front pair of legs of adults are greatly shortened and covered with tiny hairs, so that they look like little bottle-brushes. These front legs are difficult to see, so the butterfly appears to have four legs instead of six. Crescents get their name from a crescent-shaped mark on the lower side of the hind wing. The Pearl Crescent is a common butterfly, often seen in gardens or at meadow and roadside flowers. Males patrol areas near larval food plants, aster species, in search of females.

crescent3

The Pearl Crescent range overlaps here with that of a couple of other crescent species, the Northern (Phyciodes cocyta) and the Tawny (Phyciodes batesii), making the identification of crescent species difficult. The crescents in the first and last photos may be Pearls, while the middle photo may show a Northern. They fly from flower to flower, close to the ground, alternating a series of flaps with flat-winged glides. Once the first crescents appear, they suddenly seem to be abundant.

crescent4

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