Satyrs: Butterfly Images and Identification Tips

picture of a Common Ringlet butterfly, part of the butterfly images series

These butterfly images cover the mostly brown-winged brushfoots that are found in fields and forests across the United States. Satyrs, Wood-nymphs, Arctic and Alpine form a distinct subfamily.

People not familiar with these butterflies might initially assume their brown wings might be a clue to place them in the skipper family. Fortunately, the presence of eye spots make members of the Satyrinae family fairly easy to identify. Approximately fifty different species, divided into fifteen different genera, inhabit North America. Half of those species belong to either the Erebia genus commonly called the Alpines, or the Oeneis genus, commonly called the Arctics.

Most of the species are regionally based. The top picture shows a Common Ringlet, perhaps the most common species of the subfamily. Depending on geography they can have eye-spots on the wings like the other species presented here.

Wood Nymphs

picture of a Common Wood Nymph
Four wood nymph species range across the United States. The Common Wood Nymph gets its name because it is the most wide spread of the species. Everyone can find it in their local fields and grasslands.

The large eye spots on the top wing (from the side view) is the way to distinguish the Wood Nymphs from the other species on this page.

picture of a Great Basin Wood Nymph
Great Basin Wood Nymph is a regional species.

Northern Butterflies

picture of a Great Arctic Butterfly
The butterflies with the common names Arctic and Alpine give away the fact that they are northern species. Something about Alaska, northern tier of the United States, especially the Rocky Mountain region.

The Great Arctic in the picture is common along the woodland areas of the Pacific Coast states.

picture of a White Veined Arctic butterfly
White Veined Arctics are an Alaska species that make their way down the Rocky Mountains.

Only one or two of the dozen Arctic species has any presence in the East.

picture of a Common Alpine butterfly, part of the butterfly pictures series
The name Alpine suggests mountain butterflies. The dozen listed species can often be found in Alaska and Mexico.

A few species make it south to the lower 48 states where their range is almost exclusively limited to the upper areas of the Rocky Mountains and the Northern Cascades.

Common Alpine butterflies like the one in the picture are the most common species in the lower 48. They spread across the Cascades Range and Rocky Mountain range.

Pearly Eye Butterflies

picture of a Northern Pearly Eye butterflyFive Pearly Eye species (Enodia) are found east of the Rocky Mountains. Prominent eye spots are present on both of the wings.

picture of a Southern Pearly Eye
They are medium sized butterflies. The pictures show the Northern Pearly Eye and Southern Pearly Eye respectively.

Satyr Butterflies

Fifteen butterflies with the name Satyr are documented in the United States. They divide into six genera.

picture of a Carolina Satyr
For butterfly enthusiasts, it’s time to roll out all of the old Hermeuptychia Satyr butterfly imgaes. Until 2014 there were two Southeast Species. The very common Carolina Satyr and the more regional South Texas Satyr.

Lo and behold, some entomologists did some research. Speaking to Entomology Today, Dr. Nick Grishin said,

We were studying genetics of these butterflies and noticed something very odd. Butterflies looked indistinguishable, were flying together at the same place on the same day, but their DNA molecules were very different from each other. We thought there was some kind of mistake in our experiments.

So, now there are three species. The South Texas Satyr and Carolina Satyr are closely related by DNA. The Intricate Satyr stand alone.

They all sort of look like the butterfly in the picture.

picture of a Red-bordered Satyr
Red-bordered Satyr (Gyrocheilus patrobas) are a Southwest species. With the wings closed it is difficult to misidentify the species.

picture of a gemmed satyr
The cluster of small eye spots on the edge of the Gemmed Satyr is a key identification mark to all three species in the genus (Cyllopsis). The Gemmed Satyr is the dominant Eastern Species. The other two are Southwest species.

picture of a Red-Satyr
Red Satyrs (Megisto rubricata) are also a Southwest species.