The species feeds on grasses with high to average production in most humid locations.
The possible habitats include bushy, higher growing grasslands, clearings, wetlands, grassy forb communities or fringes in humid forests. In forb communities Carterocephalus palaemon rises nearly up to the timber line to about 1600m above sea level in the Alps.
Carterocephalus palaemon hibernates as an mature caterpillar in a grass tube. The adults fly from May to June, and July in the mountains. I found caterpillars in August/September on Molinia, Brachypodium sylvaticum and Brachypodium pinnatum in riparian forest clearings and in grass fringes. Oviposition was also observed in juniper heathland at Brachypodium pinnatum in open, but fallow grasslands and sometimes also in xerothermic scree fields of the Swabian Alb.
Endangerment: regionally endangered or decreasing
Although not yet seriously threatened, Carterocephalus palaemon is in decline in many regions due to darkening processes in forests and also the decreasement of open, not mown grasslands.
Carterocephalus palaemon has an Holarctic distribution and is found in many parts of temperate Europe, Asia and North America. In Europe it avoids the southernmost and also northernmost regions, especially the Mediterranean.