Common Ringlet

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

June 11, 2013

Last year I was up in Centre County on 16 May, and I saw a butterfly that I had never seen before. I only managed to get one lousy photo of one specimen before it disappeared. I bonked the shot, but it was good enough for an identification when I got home.

Common Ringlet

Common Ringlet

Common Ringlet (Coeonympha tullia), a new butterfly for me.

The Common Ringlet is a widespread species found in North America, Europe, and Asia.1 In my part of the mountains, the Common Ringlet isn’t—common, that is.

They are, however more common to the north.

I went back this year in mid May to see if I could get a decent photo. They weren’t there. So I went back a week later—they still weren’t there.

Finally, on 29 May, I found ‘em.

These are butterflies of grassy fields and meadows. The caterpillars feed on grasses and rushes, and the adults tend to stay close to the larval food plants.

In flight they show a beautiful fox color on their upper wings, which disappears when they land.

They seldom land, and when they do, they don’t stay put for long. Consequently, I got a lot of blurry shots of departing butterflies. They do, however, show that fox-colored upper wing.

Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)

Common Ringlet

What I see most often are males in the relentless hunt for someone to love. The force is strong in this one, and the lovelorn males seem to never stop fluttering back and forth along their beat, scrapping with each other, various skippers, American Coppers, or, in one instance, with a day-flying Black-Banded Orange moth, (Epelis truncataria).

American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

American Copper

 Black-Banded Orange moth, (Epelis truncataria)

Black-Banded Orange moth

Fortunately the day had patches of cumulus blowing through, and if the cloud was big enough and the shadow lasted long enough, they would drop down into the grass and disappear.

I finally found one of these and got some nice photos, but, of course, there was something in the way.

Common Ringlet

There’s always a twig, or a leaf, or something

Well that won’t do.

I spent an hour and a half walking back and forth along a fifty-yard stretch of grassy firebreak before a nicely colored and patterned Ringlet landed to nectar on a honeysuckle bush on the side of the break.

This will do.

Common Ringlet

Common Ringlet

Interestingly, according to a note on the Massachusetts Butterfly Club, Common Ringlets are a “fairly recent colonizer…from the north.”2 Common Ringlets seem to be spreading.

Perhaps they are coming soon to a grassy field near you.

  1. Of course, this is the current state of affairs. You never know when someone will pop up and find some discriminating marker to prove that the European Ringlet is not the same as the American Ringlet, which is not the same as the Asian Ringlet, etc., and we will then have two or three species where we currently have one. []
  2. Massachusetts Buttefly Club, “Common Ringlet,” [accessed 11 Jun 2013]. []

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3 Responses

  1. Linda Schultz said:

    I work with your daughter Sarah. I love your pictures. Do you use digital binoculars? Are they good for taking pictures yet?

    • Well, greetings to the Navajo Nation! I use a digital SLR (a Canon to be precise) for my photography. I looked at digital binoculars a few years ago, but I was unimpressed by the ability to capture detail. I would say that if you want to take pictures that include large wildlife in a landscape, they might do a good job, but I wouldn’t recommend them for taking photos where the animal itself is meant to take up most of the frame. I’m glad you enjoy the photos.

    • Linda,
      I’m not sure that I responded to this. I did some research on digital binos, and I don’t think you will be happy. I would stick with a Canon mid-range, something between a DSLR and point-and-shoot. Good hunting.

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