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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Brown Arctic Grayling
Oeneis chryxus  DOUBLEDAY, 1849
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
subtribe -
Oeneis chryxus chryxus Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada Chris Orpin
Introduction
The genus Oeneis comprises of 43 known species, of which 11 are found in North America, while the remainder are distributed variously across Europe and temperate Asia.
Oeneis hardly ever display the upper surface of their wings except when in flight. Most species are pale earthy brown above, although some are more richly coloured in pale orange-brown. They are largely devoid of markings other than the post-median ocelli, which are usually more conspicuous in the females. The undersides of all species are cryptic - marbled and mottled with various shades of brown, providing them with a highly effective camouflage when settled on bare earth, tree trunks or lichen-encrusted boulders.
Oeneis chryxus is the commonest and most widespread member of the genus in North America. It produces 9 subspecies found variously in western Alaska, across most of Canada, and in the Rocky Mountain states of the USA.
Habitats
This species is found on mountain scree slopes, alpine grasslands, rocky hillsides, and areas of tundra where there is plenty of bare ground.
Lifecycle
The egg is grey with numerous white vertical stripes, and globular in shape. It is laid singly among grasses and sedges where they grow sparsely on well-drained ground. The caterpillar takes 2 years to develop. It spends the first winter in the 1st or 2nd instar; and the second winter in the 4th or 5th instar. When fully grown it is pale brown with numerous fine white dorsal and lateral stripes. There is also a broken dark brown mid-dorsal stripe, and a dark lateral stripe above the spiracles. The larval foodplants are grasses including Danthonia, Oryzopsis and Phalaris ( Poaceae ).
Adult behaviour

Both sexes fly to hilltops or ridges where courtship and copulation take place. Males perch on bare ground or on boulders or tree trunks to await passing females. Both sexes nectar at Calluna and at various Asteraceae, with a preference for Cirsium.

 

 

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