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Oeneis melissa, the Melissa Arctic, is a species of butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It has a Holarctic distribution, ranging from Siberia and the North American Arctic from Alaska east to Baffin Island and Labrador. Isolated populations are found from the Rocky Mountains south to northern New Mexico and in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The habitat consists of tundra, talus slopes, rocky summits and saddles and frost-heaved clear cuts.[2]

Oeneis melissa
American entomology (Plate 50) (6026590966).jpg
As Hipparchia semidea by Titian Peale
Scientific classification
O. melissa
Binomial name
Oeneis melissa
(Fabricius, 1775)[1]
  • Papilio melissa Fabricius, 1775
  • Oeneis beanii Elwes, 1893
  • Oeneis arctica Gibson, 1920
  • Oeneis simulans Gibson, 1920
  • Hipparchia semidea Say, 1828
  • Oeneis eritiosa Harris
  • Oeneis aeno Boisduval
  • Oeneis nigra (Edwards, 1894)
  • Oeneis daisetsuzana Matsumura, 1926

The wingspan is 42–51 mm. The wings are translucent and the fringes are often checkered. The upperside is gray brown with faint or absent eyespots. The underside of the hindwings is mottled black and gray. The median band is lacking or faint with white outlines. Adults are on wing from mid-June to early August.

The larvae feed on various sedges, including Carex bigelowii and Carex rupestris. They feed at night and pupate under mosses and rocks. Development takes two years. The first winter is passed by first-instar larvae, the second winter by mature larvae.

Oeneis melissa daizetsuzana, Japan


  • Oeneis melissa melissa (Newfoundland, Labrador)
  • Oeneis melissa also (Boisduval, [1833]) (Polar Urals, Arctic Asia, Taymur, Chukot Peninsula, Kamchatka, Wrangel Island)
  • Oeneis melissa orientalis Kurentzov, 1970 (eastern Yakutia, Magadan)
  • Oeneis melissa daizetsuzana Matsumura, 1926 (Japan)
  • Oeneis melissa semidea (Say, 1828) (New Hampshire)
  • Oeneis melissa semplei Holland, 1931 (Quebec, inner Labrador, Hudson Bay)
  • Oeneis melissa assimilis Butler, 1868 (Northwest Territories)
  • Oeneis melissa gibsoni Holland, 1931 (Alaska, Yukon, northern British Columbia)
  • Oeneis melissa beanii Elwes, 1893 (Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Montana, Wyoming)
  • Oeneis melissa lucilla Barnes & McDunnough, 1918
  • Oeneis melissa karae Kusnezov, 1925 (polar tundra of northern Siberia)


  1. ^ "Oeneis Hübner, [1819]" at Markku Savela's Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms
  2. ^ Butterflies and Moths of North America