Common wood-nymph

The common wood-nymph (Cercyonis pegala) is a North American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is also known as the wood-nymph, grayling,[2] blue-eyed grayling,[3] and the goggle eye.[4]

Common wood-nymph
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Cercyonis
C. pegala
Binomial name
Cercyonis pegala
(Fabricius, 1775)


Dorsal view
Cercyonis pegala museum specimen

The common wood-nymph can vary greatly.[5] All individuals are brown with two eyespots on each forewing the lower one often being larger than the upper one. Some may have many, few, or no eyespots on the ventral surface of the hindwing. In the southeastern part of its range, it has a large yellow patch on both surfaces of the forewing. In the western part of its range, it may have a pale yellow patch or may be lacking one. Individuals in the Northeast also lack the yellow patch, i.e., C. p. nephele. In individuals with no yellow patch, there are two pale yellow eye rings that encircle both the forewing eyespots.[6] The wingspan measures 5.3 to 7.3 cm (2.1 to 2.9 in).[2]

These butterflies have ears on their forewings that are most sensitive to low frequency sounds (less than 5 kHz). A conspicuous swelling of their forewing vein are directly connected to the ears[7]


The following subspecies are recognized:

  • Cercyonis pegala abbotti (Brown, 1969)
  • Cercyonis pegala alope (Fabricius, 1793) – Texas
  • Cercyonis pegala ariane (Boisduval, 1852) – Oregon, Utah
  • Cercyonis pegala blanca (Emmel & Mattoon, 1972)
  • Cercyonis pegala boopis (Behr, 1864) – British Columbia
  • Cercyonis pegala damei (Barnes & Benjamin, 1926)
  • Cercyonis pegala ino (Hall, 1924) – prairies
  • Cercyonis pegala nephele (Kirby, 1837) – northern Canada and US
  • Cercyonis pegala olympus (Edwards, 1880)
  • Cercyonis pegala pegala (Fabricius, 1775) - eastern US
  • Cercyonis pegala stephensi (Wright, 1905)
  • Cercyonis pegala texana (Edwards, 1880) – Texas
  • Cercyonis pegala wheeleri (Edwards, 1873)

Similar species

In the western part of the common wood-nymph's range, there are a few similar species. The Great Basin wood-nymph (Cercyonis sthenele) and the small wood-nymph (Cercyonis oetus) are smaller, and the lower forewing eyespot is smaller than the upper one. Mead's wood-nymph (Cercyonis meadii) has a bright red-orange area on the ventral forewing.[6]

Range and distribution

The common wood-nymph ranges from Nova Scotia and Quebec west to northern British Columbia south to northern California southeast to Texas and east to northern Florida.[6]


The common wood-nymph is found in a variety of open habitats, such as open woodlands, woodland edges, fields, pastures, wet meadows, prairies, salt marshes, and savannas.[3][8]

Flight period

The common wood-nymph is found from mid-May to early October in the eastern part of its range.[3] It is found from late June to early July in California[4] and Arizona.[9] It has one brood per year throughout its entire range.[6]

Adult food sources

The common wood-nymph feeds on nectar, tree sap, and decaying matters.[3][8] Some of the plants it nectars on include:[8]

Life cycle

C. p. nephele, mating

The female common wood-nymph is the active flight partner.[2] The female lays her eggs on or near the host plant. The egg is pale yellow, later turning to a tan color with orange or pink blotches. The caterpillar makes no shelters or nests.[4] It is green or yellowish green with darker green stripes that run the length of the body. It has two short pinkish projections on the end of the abdomen. It has yellow spiracles and is covered in thin, white hairs. The caterpillar will reach a length of 5 cm (2 in). The common wood-nymph caterpillar is very similar to satyr caterpillars in the genera Hermeuptychia, Cyllopsis, and Neonympha. It can be separated by its larger size and habitat.[10] The pale green chrysalis is striped in white or pale yellow. The first instar caterpillar hibernates.[4]

Host plants

Here is a list of host plants used by the common wood-nymph:[3][9][10]

  • Andropogon sp. – beard grasses
  • Danthonia spicata – poverty oatgrass
  • Poa pratensis – Kentucky bluegrass
  • Schizachyrium sp. – bluestems
  • Tridens flavus – purple top


  1. Walker, A., Geest, E. & Royer (2022). "Cercyonis pegala ". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2022: e.T125855753A125886118. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2022-3.RLTS.T125855753A125886118.en. Retrieved 5 October 2022.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Shull, Ernest M. (1987). The Butterflies of Indiana. Indiana: Indiana Academy of Science. pp. 227–230. ISBN 0-253-31292-2.
  3. Cech, Rick; Tudor, Guy (2005). Butterflies of the East Coast. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 221. ISBN 0-691-09055-6.
  4. Scott, James A. (1986). The Butterflies of North America. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. pp. 240–241. ISBN 0-8047-2013-4.
  5. Calhoun, John (2016). "A reevaluation of Papilio pegala F. and Papilio alope F., with a lectotype designation and a review of Cercyonis pegala (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae) in eastern North America". Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society. 70: 20–46.
  6. Brock, Jim P.; Kaufman, Kenn (2003). Butterflies of North America. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. p. 236. ISBN 0-618-15312-8.
  7. Penghui Sun, Natasha Mhatre, Andrew C. Mason, Jayne E. Yack (17 October 2018). "In that vein: inflated wing veins contribute to butterfly hearing". Biology Letters. 14 (10). doi:10.1098/rsbl.2018.0496. Retrieved 6 January 2023.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. Iftner, David C.; Shuey, John A.; Calhoun, John V. (1992). Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio. Ohio: College of Biological Sciences and The Ohio State University. p. 147. ISBN 0-86727-107-8.
  9. Stewart, Bob; Brodkin, Priscilla; Brodkin, Hank (2001). Butterflies of Arizona. Arcata, CA: West Coast Lady Press. p. 216. ISBN 0-9663072-1-6.
  10. Wagner, David L. (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 135. ISBN 0-691-12144-3.
  • Darby, Gene (1958). What is a Butterfly. Chicago: Benefic Press. p. 37.
  • Opler, Paul A.; Lotts, Kelly; Naberhaus, Thomas (coordinators). "Common Wood Nymph". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
  • "Common Wood-Nymph". Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility. 2002. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.