Wing span: 1 3/4 - 3 inches (4.5 - 7.6 cm).
Largest species in genus. Geographically variable. Wings are brown. Forewing has 2 large, usually yellow-ringed eyespots. Lowerside of hindwing has a variable number of small eyespots. Southern and coastal butterflies are larger and have a yellow or yellow-orange patch on the outer part of the forewing. Inland butterflies are smaller and have the yellow forewing patch reduced or absent.
Southern Canada and the continental United States except for most of the Southwest and Texas, southern peninsular Florida, and northern Maine.
Large, sunny, grassy areas including prairies, open meadows, bogs, and old fields.
One brood from late May-October. Females emerge later than males.
Caterpillar hosts: Purpletop (Tridens flavus) and other grasses.
Adult food: Rotting fruit, flower nectar.
Males patrol for females with a dipping flight through the vegetation. In late summer, females lay eggs singly on host plant leaves. Caterpillars hatch but do not feed, instead hibernating until spring.
Brock and Kaufman, pp. 236-237 (1)
Glassberg, pp. 138-139, plate 41 (2)
Allen, pp. 176-177, plates 23-adult, 39-larva, 49-pupa (3)
Scott, #108, pp. 240-241, plate 16-adult, fig. 48-first instar larva, fig. 45--eggs of similar species (4)
Wright, pp. 28-28--illustrations of adult, larva (5)
Allen, pp. 110-111--photos of adult, larva (6)