North American Range
A large, cryptically colored butterfly of cold climates, like other overwintering Polygonia it is often one of the first to emerge in the spring. It tends to colonize areas erratically, with isolated pockets throughout its range, especially southward. Undergoes dramatic population swings and in some years they are extremely scarce. In late afternoon, males perch on rocks or plants in gullies to wait for females. Eggs are laid singly on upper surface of hostplant leaves, which caterpillars eat. Caterpillars are solitary and rest on the underside of leaves.
Extremely ragged wing edges. Geographically variable. Upperside is reddish brown with wide dark borders; hindwing border contains yellow spots. Underside is brown, outer half lighter; submarginal spots are greenish; hindwing with L- or C-shaped silver spot in center.
One generation with overwinter adults emerging in early spring. Extreme dates: 16 April 2002 in Marshfield (B. Pfeiffer) and 9 October 2003 in Thetford (B. Shepard).
Distribution and Habitat
A species of northern hardwood and mixed forests, during VBS mostly found in the Green Mountains and the Northeastern Highlands. Often found on dirt roads through northern forests during the survey. Larval hostplants are mainly willows (Salix), birch (Betula), and alder (Alnus), but also blueberry (Vaccinium) in some areas.