|scientific name Oeneis alberta |
common name Alberta Arctic
Dry, native prairie grassland.
One annual brood, peaking from early to late May.
The upperside is dull ochre-brown, with a variable number of small black eyespots, usually two on the forewing and one on the hindwing. The underside is finely striated black and white, with a distinct hindwing median band. The hindwing veins are outlined in white, unlike O. uhleri. The nominate subspecies (described from the mouth of Fish Creek near Calgary) occurs throughout southern Alberta. The Peace River populations are a darker, unnamed subspecies (Bird et al. 1995). D. Macaulay image
In the Peace River grasslands, the barrel-shaped eggs are laid on the tips of grass blades, and hatch in about 30 days. Larvae are reddish-brown with short, conical 'tails', and overwinter in the 5th instar, pupating early in the spring without further feeding. Pupation occurs in grass clumps near the ground. Males patrol territories to locate females, and will also fly to geographical prominences such as hilltops (Bird et al. 1995).
Although sites that support Alberta Arctics almost inevitably also support Uhler's Arctics, O. alberta tends to be more localized and less widespread in distribution.
Ranked 'Sensitive' in Alberta. The Peace River populations are globally unique.
Larval food plants are unconfirmed, though fescue (Festuca) is a likely host (Scott 1986, Bird et al. 1995).
Peace River valley of Alberta / BC south to Montana and South Dakota. Isolated populations in the southern Rocky Mountain States (Scott 1986).
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