I recently participated in the annual Fourth of July Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge/Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area Butterfly Count. Some 64 different species of butterflies were seen during the survey. Out of the kaleidoscope of species seen by the 18 volunteers taking part in the count, the butterfly spotted most often was the pearl crescent.
Seeing the name of the pearl crescent atop this list came as no surprise. The pearl crescent is one of the most common butterflies seen throughout the state. The success of this medium-small butterfly (1.25-1.60″) is closely linked to the fact it is a generalist. By that I mean it prospers in a wide variety of habitats including forest edges, fields, roadsides, clearcuts, and open woodlands. In addition, this butterfly does well in both urban and rural habitats. As such, chances are excellent that the pearl crescent might very well be one of the most abundant butterflies in your backyard too.
I usually see my first pearl crescent in my backyard in late March. However, depending upon where you live in the state, you might see one as early as February. Once you spot your first pearl crescent in the spring, you could easily see them into November.
The pearl crescent will nectar on a variety of plants. In my backyard, I often see it nectaring on black-eyed susan blossoms. In fact, it seems to feed there more often on these stunnng yellow blooms than other butterflies.
In your backyard, male pearl crescents can often be seen flying about looking for females. You will also see pearl crescents perched on leaves or the tips of stems with their wings outstretched basking in the sun.
One of the things I always look for when I first spot a pearl crescent-sized butterfly from a distance is whether the butterfly is repeatedly opening and closing its wings. If I see this behavior, invariably the butterfly proves to be a pearl crescent.
Asters serve as the pearl crescent’s host plant.