Katahdin Arctic Butterfly (Oneis polixnes katahdin)


Web Page Created by: Brian Ballenger

The Katahdin Arctic Butterfly is a rare and unique butterfly that is only found in one spot in the world, Baxter State Park, Maine (Brower, Maine State Planning Report).  The medium sized butterfly is of the family Nymphalidea (Brower, pg.3).  The butterfly is not as aesthetically pleasing as common butterflies.  An adult butterfly will be range from two to four inches, will have thick hair, and appear dull yellowish-brown (Maine, I.N.F.W.). The butterfly is located only on the tundra area above tree line or "tableland" on Mt. Katahdin (Figure 1).  Being located above tree line, the butterfly is often subjected to harsh weather conditions ranging from snow every month of the year, to gale force winds.  Figure 2 shows the butterfly in its natural habitat.

(Figure 1)                      (Figure 2)

Range and Distribution

The Katahdin Arctic Butterfly is only found in Baxter State Park on the upper portion above the tree line on Mt. Katahdin (Figure 1).  Although no exact population size to known, current records monitoring habits, suggest that the population is somewhat stable and varies depending on yearly weather trends, and observation conditions and how many observations are conducted annually (Hoekwater). 

Threats and Endangered Status of the Katahdin Arctic Butterfly

Being isolated on the mountain top, the main danger the Katahdin Arctic Butterfly faces is human threats.  Alpine tundra conditions are very fragile and sensitive to impacts by both humans and natural causes. The Katahdin Arctic Butterfly is currently listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as State Endangered.  In 1995, for the first time the ESA was enacted on an invertebrate species, the Katahdin Arctic Butterfly.  Two men were sentenced to federal prison and fined for numerous protected butterfly species ( Hoekwater).   The management of the butterfly is currently under control by Baxter State Park Authority (Ballenger).

Other Related Species

-White Mountain Butterfly- Oeneis melissa semidea  found on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire                                            

-Bog Arctic Butterfly- Oeneis jutta

Taxonomy of the Katahdin Arctic Butterfly:

Kingdom- Animlia

Phylum- Arthropoda


Order- Insecta



Ballenger, Brian. 2006 Field Notes and Observations. Baxter State Park, Maine.

Brower, A.  1977. A Report for the Critical Area Program.  State Planning Office, Augusta, Maine.

Hoekwater, Jean. 2006 Notes, Field Partner, Interviews.  Baxter State Park, Maine.

Katahdin Arctic. 2003. Maine's Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Tice, Robert. 2004. Katahdin Arctic Butterfly Photo. Baxter State Park, Maine.