Common wood nymph, Cercyonis pegala

Common wood nymph, Cercyonis pegala

On a Sunday morning photo ramble through the conservation area, I encountered this demure but lovely butterfly. It is Cercyonis pegala, the common wood nymph. Several of them fluttered around the meadow where the main wildflowers in bloom included Queen Anne’s lace, birdsfoot trefoil and chicory.

I am enjoying the new telephoto zoom lens and tripod because I can set them up at enough distance to avoid disturbing skittish insects like butterflies and dragonflies. Then I can click at leisure.

We so often pass such creatures and admire their beauty without getting to know them. So I searched the internet for clues about this species. Here is what I gleaned.

  • It ranges across North America and may be found in various open habitats.
  • Adults fly throughout the summer.
  • The butterfly avoids sites disturbed by human activity such as mowing.
  • Only one generation occurs each year.
  • The females lay eggs on various grass species on which the larvae will feed.
  • Caterpillars hatch but do not feed before hibernating for the winter.
  • It had previously been known that most butterflies taste with their feet, but research on C. pegala in the 1950s was first to show butterflies also taste with their antennae.
  • The common wood nymph tastes good to birds.

I couldn’t find anything unusual about them, and yet every life is remarkable. One can only guess the secrets they keep.

For photo blog Thursday.


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