The northern pearly-eye butterfly has a wingspan of 2.5 inches. The female is larger than the male. The wings are brown and have eyespots. The eyespots on the upperside are black. Those on the lower side are black with a white pupil and enclosed in a yellow ring. The antennae are black with an orange tip.
This species lives statewide in woodlands with native grasses. In the southern one-half of the state, the larvae eat inland oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). In the northern one-half of the state, the larvae eat other species of native grasses. The adults feed on tree sap, dead animals, rotten fruit and the solid wastes of animals. Two generations are produced per year. The larval stage overwinters.