1 3/4-2" (44-51 mm). Wings slightly scalloped. Above, male cocoa-brown to tan, female brighter; some populations have yellowish areas; on both, zigzag pattern of darker brown crosses FW and is suggested on HW; outer half of HW has row of black spots
on lighter brown field. Below, inner part of both wings violet-brown to greenish-gray crossed by darker brown lines toward base; tip half whitish or yellowish with brown, yellow-rimmed eyespots that have blue or pearly pupil. Pearly sheen below. Female FW below has upper part of brown line in from eyespots bowed out toward tip; female usually has 4 eyespots on FW. Antennal club has orange tip.
Creole Pearly Eye male has dark patches above; female above usually has more complete FW spots and wavier convex line inside eyespots on FW below; both have more HW eyespots. Northern Pearly Eye smaller, paler, less yellowish below; antennal club has orange, black-ringed tip; range more northerly.
Egg greenish-white. Caterpillar yellowish-green with matching red-tipped horns at both ends; feeds on giant cane (Arundinaria gigantea) and perhaps maiden cane (A. tecta). Chrysalis green, sometimes has bluish tint.
Up to 3 broods; May-September.
Moist, shady woodland spots near stands of cane.
S. Illinois and S. Virginia south to Florida, and west to Texas, mostly on coastal plain and in Mississippi Valley.
Formerly, the Pearly Eye and Northern Pearly Eye were considered a single species. However, their mating behavior and other aspects of their biology, structure, and appearance clearly separate them. Pearly Eyes alight on tree trunks, which males energetically defend. Courtship takes place during the twilight hours. The 3 North American pearly eyes were previously included in the genus Lethe.