Common Ringlet Coenonympha tullia, has a wingspan of 1 – 1 7/8 inches and is noted for the rusty orange coloring on its upper wings. There will always be one small eyespot looking back at any observer too.
These little satyrs might be sighted all over New England, Canada and even in Japan and Italy, and may also be seen in groupings of hundreds in the right habitat.
This sighting of the Common Ringlet was in May of 2012 out in our south field and also a first for me here at Flower Hill Farm. They might be flying, with their unique bouncy flight, about open fields and meadows, with some shrubberies, or along wooded, country roads from late May through the beginning of July and then from the end of July to the end of August.
Again, various grasses seem to be the necessary host plant. The butterfly appears not to be too picky and will sample a number of flowers for nectar. They too overwinter in various larva stages.
The free spirited Common Ringlet decided to immigrate from Canada to New England as recently as the late nineteen sixties and are now plentiful across the state of Massachusetts.
Common Wood Nymph Cercyonis pegala, is the larger of the three satyrs featured here, with a wingspan of about 2 – 2 7/8 inches. The eyespots painted on an yellow-orange background are dramatic within the dark brown wings and make these butterflies easy to identify, though there are variations on this design that might be confusing.
Common Wood Nymphs may be seen flying about from July through the early part of September in open meadows, bogs and along sunny forest corridors. As the name implies these little beauties are pretty common here in Massachusetts. The caterpillars eat various grasses and later as butterflies sip from a diverse array of flowers along with rotting fruit and even fungi.
Common Wood Nymphs overwinter here in New England too. Right about the time our first icy frost clings to leaves and carpets the ground, and when just out of its egg, the first instar caterpillar will crawl or drop down into the center of its host plant and hibernate throughout the winter.
Soon there will be a myriad of sprouts stirring and breaking through the crust of earth or armored calyx and surviving caterpillars will begin munching their way to becoming butterflies.
Robins were with us all winter. Hundreds of the rusty-red breasted birds are now running along the newly exposed ground, about the fields and gardens, like sentinels. I am afraid the caterpillars will have to be very clever in their camouflage with so many beaks lifting leaves and other debris.
It is at this time of year, when there seems so much promise, that I feel most enraged and saddened about all the injustice and cruelty to our planet and all life on it. I so truly wish it could be different, that all peoples could peacefully mark their days by what bird or butterfly returns to their small paradise. I am lucky to have, for awhile, this plot of earth that is ever giving while allowing me to express my love for nature. It is my hope that in some small way my sharing it brings joy and inspiration to others.