Little Wood-Satyr: A Common Early June Butterfly

The butterfly seen most frequently in Eliza Howell Park in early June, visible even on cloudy days when other butterflies are not very active, is the Little Wood-Satyr.

As I walk in the wildflower meadow near the edge of trees, I cannot miss them as they fly close to the path, often coming to rest on or near the ground.

When the wings are spread, the six circled black spots (eyespots) help to identify this species. When not flying, Little Wood-Satyr shows itself both with wings spread (as above) and with wings closed.

When the wings are closed, the two lines on the underwing are quite visible.

The wingspan is a little over 1 and 1/2 inches. Its flight, sometimes described as “bouncy” or as “dancing,” contributes to it being so noticeable. It feeds on grasses and other plants and is not a species that is attracted to the nectar of flowers.

There is only one brood a year (they overwinter as caterpillars) and the adults will be gone when summer reaches its peak and this meadow is filled with prairie flowers attended to by a variety of other butterflies.

Little Wood-Satyr is found throughout the Eastern part of the United States. (This map is from Garden with Wings.)

When summer truly arrives, this area near the edge of the woods will be populated by another type of satyr, the Common Wood-Nymph.

Wood-Nymphs are larger (wingspan over 2 inches) and are a nectaring species. They do not spread their wings when nectaring and are distinguished by 2 yellow-ringed black eyespots on the forewing.

From July through September, this prairie flower area in Eliza Howell will be visited by many admirers of wildflowers and of butterflies. Now, when very few of the flowers are blooming, there are not many of us walking among the plants.

We who are here now have a great opportunity to get to know the Little Wood-Satyr. And come to recognize that even little brown “bugs” can be lovely and fascinating.

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