Monday, June 18, 2012

Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)

From the Sinks of Gandy area I drove down to one of the camp grounds to sit out the rain. During one moment of very light drizzle I decided to look for butterflies. I was totally not prepared when I spotted a Orange Sulphur and a strange little one flying in the light rain. I ran back to the car, grabbed my net and was lucky to find the strange one still flying. Once in my net I placed it in a clear box so I could take a photo and try to identify it.

By then the rain was coming down more so we moved to a picnic shelter so we didn’t have to sit in the car. I checked my eastern butterfly book and my WV Butterfly book but could not find this pretty little butterfly.

Finally I went through Petersons page by page until I came to Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia) and there it was. They are not supposed to be this far south! But there it was sitting on my finger. Apparently someone released some at Spruce Knobs and they have been spreading.

You can see how it has closed up its wings as compared to when I first caught it.

They are in the Family Nymphalidae (brushfoot family) and subfamily Satyrinae. The Nymphalidea generally have a reduced pair of forelegs giving it appearance of having only 2 pair of legs and a very bushy face.

Even though I placed it on the table it just sat there with us waiting for the rain to stop. I read that the host plant for the caterpillar is grass and rush. They like open grassy areas like the one we were in. I reported it to Butterflies and Moths web site and in the east it is the most southerly one reported. I guess time will tell the impact of the release.


Denise said...

Amazing photos. I had no idea butterflies came out in the rain.

suep said...

I really like your clear box idea, especially to get that underside view, with which you really captured the leg arrangement !
thanks for explaining that...

pabrannon said...

I was excited to find your blog regarding the Common Ringlet. I also saw one yesterday on a trail not far from your sighting - on a ridge trail in N.Pocahontas Co.

Back home in Ohio, I am involved in monthly butterfly surveys for my county's park district. So I am always excited to spot an unfamiliar butterfly.

My post to Pocahontas Nature Club follow:
Yesterday, my husband & I were hiking along a ridge at the top of Burner Mountain
(N. Pocahontas Co.). The trail was a grassy double-track in the Monongahela National Forest - an area gated and designated for handicapped hunters which we found interesting. I glanced down and spotted this butterfly. The single black eye on the forewing got my attention, and I was puzzled.

We got this shot with the cell phone camera, not the best, but good enough for me to finally ID it as a Common Ringlet, using Peterson's Eastern Butterflies.

It was unexpected to find a butterfly with such an uncommon name, at least unknown to me. According to the range maps in Peterson's field guide this butterfly is not commonly found in WV, although it range is indicated as "expanding".

I would be interested to know if other sightings of the Common Ringlet have been recorded.