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Publication #EENY-109

Phaon Crescent, Mat Plant Crescent, Phyciodes phaon (Edwards) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)1

Donald W. Hall and Jerry F. Butler2


The phaon crescent, Phyciodes phaon (Edwards), is a common southern crescent that frequents moist open areas. It resembles the pearl crescent that is found in the same areas, but differs by the more checkered fringe on the wings.

Figure 1. 

Adult phaon crescent, Phyciodes phaon (Edwards).

Credit: Robert Lord Zimlich
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


The phaon crescent is found from coastal North Carolina throughout the southern parts of the Gulf states to southern Texas and westward to southern California. It strays north to Iowa and Nebraska.


The wingspread is 2.3 to 3.2 cm. The upper surface of the wings is brown with orange checkered spots and the front wings have a median white to yellowish band (also visible on the undersides). The undersides of the wings are orange and light tan with blackish brown markings.

Larvae are variable in color from olive to brown with dark subdorsal bands and white lateral bands. Both thoracic and abdominal segments have transverse bands of scoli, each of which bears brown setae.

Figure 2. 

Larva of phaon crescent, Phyciodes phaon (Edwards).

Credit: Jerry F. Butler, University of Florida
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Life Cycle

There are several flights (early spring to late fall) in the northern part of the range and nearly year round in peninsular Florida. Males patrol open areas near host plants for females. Mating occurs primarily during mid-day. Eggs are laid in clusters on the undersides of leaves of the fogfruit host plants, Phyla (=Lippia) spp. (Verbenaceae). The common host throughout much of Florida is turkey tangle fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora (L.) Green, also known as capeweed, mat plant, creeping charlie, and match heads.

Figure 3. 

Turkey tangle fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora (L.) Green (Verbenaceae).

Credit: Donald W. Hall, University of Florida
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Selected References

Daniels J. 2003. Butterflies of Florida. Adventure Publications. Cambridge, Minnesota. 256 pp.

Glassberg J, Minno MC, Calhoun JV. 2000. Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field, Finding, and Gardening Guide to Butterflies in Florida. Oxford University Press. New York. 242 pp.

Minno MC, Emmel TC. 1993. Butterflies of the Florida Keys. Scientific Publishers. Gainesville, Florida.

Minno MC, Butler JF, Hall DW. 2005. Florida Butterfly Caterpillars and their Host Plants. University Press of Florida. Gainesville, Florida. 341 pp.

Opler PA, Krizek GO. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD.

Opler PA, Malikul V. 1998. Eastern Butterflies. Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York.

Scott JA. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press. Stanford, CA.

Wagner DL. 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey. 512 pp.



This document is EENY-109 (IN266), one of a series of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date August 1999. Revised August 2016. Visit the EDIS website at This document is also available on the Featured Creatures website at


Donald W. Hall, professor; and Jerry F. Butler, professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.