The subspecies Arethusana arethusa boabdil and Arethusana arethusa dentata are considered as full species by some authors.
Arethusana arethusa has a wingspan of 42–47 millimetres (1.7–1.9 in) in males, of 50–54 millimetres (2.0–2.1 in) in females. The length of the forewings can reach 21–25 mm. The upper surface of the wings is dark brown, with a characteristic series of ocher-orange oval markings forming a V and a blackish brown large spot close to the top of the forewings. Also the hindwings have a small blackish spot near the border. The external edges of the wings has a tooth-shaped pattern. The underside of the hindwings is mottled and shows a transversal whitish band dividing the wing and well marked white veins.
This species can be found as far west as Morocco and as far eastward as south-west Siberia and northern Tian Shan. These butterflies prefer grassy and bushy areas, steppes and arid sparse woodlands, at an elevation of 0–2,500 metres (0–8,202 ft) above sea level.
This species is univoltine. The caterpillars overwinter in the first larval instar. The larvae feed on various grasses, including Festuca, Bromus erectus, Brachypodium pinnatum, Cynosurus cristatus, Corynephorus canescens, Dactylis and Poa species. Adults are on wing from July to September.
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