A Smile for the Cream-Colored Bands on a Butterfly’s Forewings

Phaon Crescent Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Love that moment when you think you’ve met a Pearl Crescent Butterfly, and quickly notice those cream-colored bands on the forewings. I for sure smile, realizing that I’ve met those new friends of mine, now that I’m a Georgian. It’s a Phaon Crescent Butterfly, that butterfly of the southern USA.

Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle dishes up lots of special butterflies. I’ve been to this Florida Panhandle refuge 3 times now, and each time I meet new and fresh butterflies, plants and animals. Now in my 3rd read of Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher, their account of their experiences in the Panhandle have again wet my appetite for a re-visit to Big Bend and the St,. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.


“Oh Baby You Know What I Like”

Phaon Crescent Butterfly 3 photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

At the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, in Florida’s Panhandle, who did we meet? Just as you’d hope, there was this Phaon Crescent butterfly. As soon as I saw those sweet cream colored bands on its fresh forewings, I knew this little beaut was a Phaon. The clincher was the abundance of its hostplant, Fogfruit, growing low on the trailside, close to the marshy, swampy Big Bend wetland.

What springs to mind, when this rock ‘n roller reminds of this happy sighting? The Big Bopper’s cannot be forgotten Hello Baby, You Know What I Like . . .

It’s fun to see such, and be obliged to determine, in a nanosecond, if you’ve met a Pearl Crescent, or a Phaon Crescent or a Texan Crescent or maybe, just maybe a Cuban Crescent butterfly. After all, it was the Florida Panhandle, and any or all might, just might be flying.


Phaon Crescent? Yes? Excellent!

Phaon Crescent Butterfly 3 photographed by Jeff Zablow at Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida

Major Fun comes when you travel to distant places, and begin your search for butterflies, familiar and new. That’s what happened on our most recent trip to Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in the Florida Panhandle.

After living most of my life in the northeastern USA, it’s happily often now that I am pleased to meet new butterflies. That’s what happened here, when we were working the Spring Unit of Big Bend, along a swampy area trail. Along came this butterfly, and it stopped on this leaf. No time to stop and study, so I shot away. What I did know was that he WAS a Phaon Crescent and not a Pearl Crescent butterfly.

He had those cream colored bands on his forewings and those wide orange spots too. They prefer moist habitat, and that’s exactly where we were.

A fresh, beautiful Phaon pleasing me with good photo opps on a fine northern Florida morning. Excellent!


From the Hospitality of a Mississippi State Park: a Phaon Crescent Butterfly

Phaon Crescent Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Leroy Percy State Park, MS

We were down visiting family in Greenville, Mississippi. Leroy Percy State Park was nearby and it was a treat for me to be introduced to new, southern-based species of butterflies.

Phyciodes Phaon flew very low, keeping close to the edge of the lake. Similar to the closely related Pearl Crescent, they fly and descend on foliage, repeatedly. So we were able to photograph the Phyciodes Phaon.

Our individual here I believe is a female, and sports the characteristic whitish median forewing band.  Others may be creamy or yellow.

A wetland butterfly, Phaon crescents never flew far from the lake shore. Phaons prefer wetland habitat. Pearl crescents don’t. Related species, different habitat.


We enjoyed the hospitality of this Mississippi state park. In the west-central part of the state, it offers comfortable cabins. It’s a sight for us Pittsburghers, sitting near our cabin, at lakeside, watching the herons, egrets and alligators. Nice. Very nice.