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Nymphs and Satyrs (subfamily Satyrinae, family Nymphalidae)

The Raleigh-Durham area has lots of large wooded state and county parks in which the Satyrinae thrive.  Here you can find members of this Brush-foot sub-family in unusually large numbers.  Credit must be given to the 150-odd species of very tall trees that naturally dominate this part of the country, perhaps as a result of frequent long droughts alternating with heavy rains.  Access to groundwater or human assistance is key to the survival of most flora around here.  (There is also a Common Ringlet, observed in California, shown here.)

Common Wood Nymphs (Cercyonis pegala)

Common Wood Nymph, Occoneechee Mountain, Orange County, NC,  6/20/04.  I photographed this one at the side of a trail deep in the woods, but not until after it flew wildly about, tracing a yellow ribbon in the air. Common Wood Nymph, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access (Orange County, NC), 7/6/05.  This one appeared in a power line cut through a wooded area. Common Wood Nymph, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access (Durham County, NC), 9/20/04.  This butterfly had apparently seen a lot of action, with its eyespots nearly worn off. Common Wood Nymph, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access (Orange County, NC), 7/30/05.  This butterfly showed up fairly deep in the woods. Common Wood Nymph, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access (Orange County, NC), 8/17/05. Common Wood Nymph, Duke Forest, Gate 12, 9/29/05.  This butterfly lay down on its side in an apparent attempt to hide.

Little Wood Satyrs (Megisto cymela), and/or Viola's Wood Satyrs (Megisto viola)

There is growing consensus that these are different species.  It seems to me that Little Wood Satyrs have smaller eyespots and narrower wings and tend to live far back in the woods, while Viola's Satyrs have big eyespots and wide wings and come out of the woods, sometimes onto front lawns.  Viola's Satyrs have traditionally been regarded as Deep South butterflies, but these butterflies seem to have been extending their range northward in recent years.  I am calling them Little Wood Satyrs arbitrarily.

Little Wood Satyr,  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 6/4/08 Little Wood Satyr, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/11/06. Little Wood Satyr, ventral view, Asheville, Buncombe County,  NC, 6/1/04.  These are far more reclusive than the Carolina Satyr and the larger Viola's Satyr. Little Wood Satyr, Piedmont Wildlife Center, Durham, NC, 5/8/10 Little Wood Satyr, Durham, 6/9/05.  This butterfly, in contrast, posed patiently on a front yard in my neighborhood.

Creole Pearly Eye (Lethe creola)

         
Creole Pearly Eye, Congaree National Park, Richland County, SC, 4/30/11          

Southern Pearly Eyes (Lethe portlandia portlandia, formerly Enodia portlandia)

Southern Pearly Eye, Merchants Millpond State Park, Gates County, NC, 4/29/09 Southern Pearly Eye, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 6/25/08 Southern Pearly Eye, Wannamaker County Park, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06 Southern Pearly Eye, Sewee Visitors Center trail, Francis Marion National Forest, SC, 3/29/06

Northern Pearly Eyes (Lethe anthedon anthedon, formerly Enodia anthedon)

Northern Pearly Eye, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 8/9/09.  Dorsal view. Northern Pearly Eye, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 8/2/11 Northern Pearly Eye.  Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 8/18/08 Northern Pearly Eye, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 7/30/05.  Viewer discretion advised:  note where the proboscis is going (and the interested fly in the background). Same butterfly, assuming a more palatable pose (for humans, anyway.) Northern Pearly Eye fresh from cocoon Northern Pearly Eye, 6/05/04, Umstead State Park, Wake County, NC Northern Pearly Eye, 9/5/04, Appalachian Trail, Botetourt County, VA.  Note the forewing eyespot differences.

Appalachian Browns (Lethe appalachia appalachia, formerly Satyrodes appalachia)

Appalachian Brown, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/9/12 Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 9/19/11 Appalachian Brown, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/28/05. Appalachian Brown, Durham, 6/10/05.  This butterfly appeared in a very dark nook of a wooded stream in my neighborhood. Appalachian Brown, Durham, 5/28/06.  This one appeared near the swamp/marsh in my neighborhood. Appalachian Brown, Haw River State Park, Rockingham County, NC, 5/13/08 Appalachian Brown, very faded, Third Fork Trail, Durham, NC, 6/18/11

Carolina Satyrs (Hermeuptychia sosybius)

This very common species of North Carolina butterfly shows some local variations in the patterns on the ventral side of the wings.  It's easy to mistake one for the much less common Viola's Wood Satyr, which has larger black eyespots but no light eyespots.

Carolina Satyrs mating, Indian Creek Trail, Chatham County, NC, 5/3/05 More Carolina Satyrs mating, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 8/17/05.  Different Carolina Satyr couple, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 8/17/05.  I saw 45+ members of this species there and then. Mating Carolina Satyrs, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 4/20/06

 

Carolina Satyr (dorsal view), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/19/11 Carolina Satyr, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/21/06 Indian Creek Trail near Jordan Lake bank, Chatham County, NC, 5/3/05. Yes, this plain brown butterfly is a Carolina Satyr, but it's not often seen from this angle. Carolina Satyr, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access (near Bobbitt Hole), Orange County, NC, 8/31/04 

 

Carolina Satyr, Durham, 7/22/04.  Carolina Satyrs are very common in Eastern NC, and sometimes show up outside the woods, as this one did. A grass blade partially obscures the view. Carolina Satyr,  Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 8/31/04. None of the little eyespots has any black, in contrast with the CS on the left.  Also, the squiggly brown lines are more curved, and the paler eyespots more prominent. Carolina Satyr,  Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road, Orange County, NC, 9/20/04. A very worn individual, although the lines are still clear. The lighter eyespots are almost completely faded. Carolina Satyr, Old Cole Mill Road access, Orange County, NC, 4/25/05.  Note how lighting alone changes its color.

 

Carolina Satyr, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access (Orange County), 8/17/05 Carolina Satyr, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, 10/23/05 Carolina Satyr,  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/29/06

Eastern Gemmed Satyrs (Cyllopsis gemma gemma)

Gemmed Satyrs are either beige, brown or gray, depending on the lighting.  Forewing shape varies, too (note especially the Falls Lake satyr.)

Gemmed Satyr, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 10/8/11 Gemmed Satyr,  caught in a spider web.  It broke free several seconds later.  Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 8/27/10 Eastern Gemmed Satyr, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 7/9/08 Eastern Gemmed Satyr, Wannamaker County Park, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06 Eastern Gemmed Satyr, Indian Creek Wildlife Observation Trail, Chatham County, a Jordan Lake Gameland, 4/19/06

 

Gemmed Satyr, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/19/11 Gemmed Satyr, Occoneechee Mountain, Orange County, NC, 4/22/05 Gemmed Satyr, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 4/22/04. Gemmed Satyr, Falls Lake, Wake County, NC, 8/1/04. The forewing seems more rounded than in the other pictures. Gemmed Satyr, Umstead State Park, 9/5/04.  The same satyr is represented in these two pictures, showing that color in this species is largely determined by lighting.

Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)

Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia), Camp Taylor, Marin County, CA, 8/4/07

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© Copyright 2005-2008 Dorothy E. Pugh