Lepidoptera in the Satyridae (Browns) family

Species featured on this page

Latin name Common name Family
Manola jurtina Meadow brown Satyridae
Aphantopus hyperantus Ringlet Satyridae
Pararge aegeria Speckled wood Satyridae

Satyridae family, also known as the "Browns".

This family is now included in the Nymphalidae by some. In the U. K. these are small - medium sized butterflies often found in grassy places. They have conspicuous eyespots on the wings. The spots are usually black with a white centre. The wingspan ranges from 25 - 73 mm, and as the common name suggests, the adults tend to be drably coloured. Thier flight is rapid and jerky. The caterpillars often feed on grasses, and all U. K. species are grass feeders. The pupae are suspended from plants by tail hooks only, or are found on the ground.

Maniola jurtina, meadow brown.

On the right is a female meadow brown. It is one of the most abundant European butterflies, and can be found all over the UK.

The adult is found in a variety of habitats, and flies from mid June to mid August. Its wingspan is 4.4 - 5.0 cm.

The scent emitted by the female to attract the male cannot be detected by humans, however the scent emitted by the male once he has found a receptive female can. It is said to smell faintly like an old cigar box.

The caterpillar is green and feeds on grass at night and hides in the grass roots during the day, so is seldom seen. It overwinters as a larva, and pupates the following summer.

Maniola jurtina, meadow brown butterfly
Ringlet butterfly, Aphantopus hyperanthus

Ringlet, Aphantopus hyperantus

The Ringlet is common in western, central and northern Europe, and east as far as Asia. It is found in damp meadows, along paths and woodland edges. There is usually one generation a year.

Eggs are scattered in grasses in July and August, and hatch in 2 or 3 weeks.

The caterpillar is fawn coloured with black spots, a brown head and a pale stripe down each side. It feeds at night on grasses and hides at the base of grasses during the day. It hibernates through the winter, although it will feed during mild spells. It continues to feed the following spring. Body length is up to 21 mm long.

Pupation takes place in the ground near the foodplants in June, and adults emerge around 2 weeks later.

Adult wingspan is 40 - 48 mm, the females are larger than the males with more distinct eye spots on the underside of the wing. The characteristic ringed spots appear on both upper and undersides of both wings, and the underside is paler brown so the spots are more conspicuous. The spots vary in size, especially the yellow ring.

Adults are seen in July and August, and have a ponderous flight.

Note that both the one above and on the right have damaged wings, probably due to a bird attack. And this just goes to show how effective the eyespots are at attracting the attention of predators to attack a relatively unimportant part of the body.

Ringlet butterfly, adult

The Speckled wood, Pararge aegeria

The Speckled wood has 2 broods per year in the U. K., with adults flying in April and May, and also in late summer.

It overwinters as a caterpillar or Pupa.

As its common name suggests it is a butterfly of woodlands, the adults are most commonly seen in patches of sunlight. This one was found on a woodland path.

Speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria