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Carolina Satyr
carolina satyr butterfly
Carolina satyr, photographed at Cypress Creek Natural Area in Jupiter, February 2015.
carolina satyr butterfly

When it came time to dish out color, the Carolina satyr, Hermeuptychia sosybius, must have been at the very end of the line. It's best described as dull brown. The dullest of dull browns, in fact.

It is a denizen of forests, found throughout much of the eastern and central United States, from New Jersey to Kansas to Texas to Florida. It's also found in Mexico, and occasionally, in parts of Central America. In Florida, it's common throughout both the Panhandle and Peninsula. In fact, it is the most common of the eight satyr butterflies found in Florida.

We spotted dozens of Carolina satyrs flying low to the forest floor during a two-plus hour hike through Cypress Creek Natural Area. The only other butterfly species as prevalent was the zebra longwing.

It is a small butterfly, with a wingspan of an inch-and-a-half. The upper side of the wings is brown, with no obvious markings. The underside has a series of prominent eyespots with a yellow rim. It also has two irregular dark lines that are vertical when the wings are folded up. Male and female Carolina satyrs are identical.

In South Florida and other southern parts of its range, the Carolina satyr produces three generations of throughout the year; up north, it's limited to April through October. Various grasses serve as host plants for the caterpillars.

Adults, meanwhile, feed on tree sap and decaying fruit. Yum. They occasionally will visit flowers.

carolina satyr butterfly

Fun fact No. !: In Greek and Roman mythology, a satyr is a minor diety that hangs out in the woods and is often drunk.

Fun fact No. 2: Researchers in Texas studying the genetics of the Carolina satyr recently discovered not one, but two new species of butterflies. Wing patterns of the Carolina and another satyr butterfly were nearly identical, but according to an account in Entymology Today, the genitalia — you read right — of the two were vastly different. They named the new species H. intricata, the Intricate satyr. DNA testing of another similar looking butterfly turned up the second new species. Researchers named it the south Texas Satyr, H. hermybius. Admittedly, we did not check the genitalia of the butterflies we saw, nor did we do any DNA sequencing. But we're fairly sure nonetheless that these are Carolina satyrs.

By the way, Carolina satyrs are members of Nymphalidae, the brushfoot family.