Subject: Two Butterflies Enjoying Our Weeds (I Mean Wildflowers)
Location: Southern Coryell County, central Texas
December 2, 2012 2:21 pm
Hello again! I’m so glad we didn’t mow yet. These two butterflies were enjoying the dandelions in the backyard today, Sunday, Dec. 2nd, around noon. Warm day, partly cloudy, 78 degrees F., in central Texas. Using the Bug Guide and The Butterflies and Moths of North America (online), I’m making a guess as to which species they are. Are they a pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) and a queen butterfly (danaus gilippus)? The Butterflies and Moths site has a very cool search vehicle in which I was able to enter country, state, and county, and it generated a verified list of recent sightings in our county. Very helpful in narrowing the field, especially with the crescents (there seem to be so many similar ones). Thank you for any help or corrections. Your site is so informative!
We are certain many of our northern readers are envious at your December butterfly sighting. You did quite well on the identification. We agree that the lower butterfly is a Queen, Danaus gilippus, and chances are good they can be spotted year round in Texas as well as Florida.
We disagree with your identification of the Pearl Crescent. We actually believe it to be a different species in the same genus. The Pearl Crescent is a highly variable species, and you might be correct, but we are favoring the Phaon Crescent, Phyciodes phaon, as a closer match. We are basing this on the pattern of the light irregular bar in the center of the forewing as well as the surrounding patterns which closely matches this image on BugGuide. Crescents can be very difficult to identify to the species level, though the genus is rather distinctive.