We came across this butterfly in the mountains of north Georgia near the North Carolina line. This a species in the genus Phyciodes in the group called “Crescents”. One species or another of this genus occurs widely across the eastern U.S. The larvae feed on asters.
Just which species of Phyciodes, it is…that is a tougher question to answer. There are several very similar species, and they can not always be distinguished in the field, even by experts. I would normally say this is a Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos), but the Northern Crescent (P. coquette) and the Tawny Crescent (P. batesii ) are very similar. To top off the confusion, a new species, P. incognitos, the Mimic Crescent was described in 2004. Despite our human desires to pigeonhole everything we see into well-defined categories, nature does not always work that way.
Whichever species it is, it shows a bit of wear. Pieces of both forewings are missing. Butterflies have no way to repair such damage to their wings, and eventually lose the ability to fly if they live long enough. This one flew away quite well, however.