Pearl Crescent: # 13 of “23 Butterflies in 2023”

Leonard Weber

March 31, 2023

The Pearl Crescent is a small orange and black butterfly that flies in Eliza Howell Park from the middle of May into September. Perhaps because of its size (wingspan of 1 1/2 inches), it does not seem to get the attention some other common butterflies get.

June 7

There are sometimes differences in appearance among crescents and, for a few years, I tried to examine carefully each one I spotted. I was trying to determine whether it was a Pearl Crescent or perhaps a Northern Crescent, a very similar species also found in Michigan.

This individual is ragged and faded.

June 14

Listening to experts who repeatly reported that it is extremely difficult to tell the difference in the field, I have since adopted the recommended practice of the Michigan Butterfly Network: that, for practical field identification, we name those here in southern Michigan “Pearl Crescents” and those on the other side of a line about 100 miles north of here “Northern Crescents.”

Pearl Crescent range, Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America
Northern Crescent range, Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America

While I usually enjoy the challenge of trying to make difficult identification, I have decided to go along with identification based on geography in this case. Less focus on identification allows more time to enjoy the butterfly’s beauty and to observe its behavior.

August 8
June 3

There are usually two broods. Pearl Crescent spends the winter here in the  caterpillar stage, continuing to chrysalis and then adult in the spring.

July 27
August 29

Now that we have reached the end of March, it is only a matter of weeks before I will again look for Pearl Crescent, a regular and attractive participant in the annual butterfly extravaganza at Eliza Howell Park.

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