Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela) (Cramer, 1777)

Diagnosis: Megisto cymela is a greyish-brown butterfly with rounded wings. On the upperside there are two dark eye-spots on each wing; the upper one on the hindwing is smaller and fainter than the others, and there is occasionally a tiny third spot on the hindwing. Most spots usually contain two tiny metallic grey pupils. On the underside, the two spots on the forewing and four on the hindwing are more distinct and are ringed with yellowish brown, and the metallic pupils are larger. Wingspan: 29 to 42 mm.

Subspecies: Two subspecies are known but only the nominate subspecies occurs in Canada.

Range: The Little Wood-Satyr is found throughout the eastern and central U.S., and southern Canada from southern Nova Scotia through Quebec and Ontario to southern Saskatchewan, as far north as Lac-O'Connell, Quebec, Charlton and Kenora, Ontario, Cowan, Manitoba, and Togo, Saskatchewan. It is apparently absent from Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, and the north shore of Lake Superior.

Similar Species: None.

Early Stages: The larva is light greenish brown, with a dark dorsal stripe and alternating brown and yellowish lateral stripes; it is covered with small bumps, each bearing a short reddish-brown hair. The head is dirty white and the "tails" are light-grey. The larvae feed on grasses, including Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) and Blue Grass (Poa pratensis), and hibernate in the fourth instar.

Abundance: Megisto cymela is common to abundant over most of its range.

Flight Season: Early June to late July, most common in late June. There is one generation per year in Canada, up to three farther south.

Habits: The Little Wood-Satyr is found near woods or shrubby areas. Its flight is weak and bouncing, but it is expert at dodging around the nearest clump of shrubs or into the woods to avoid capture. It is occasionally found feeding on sap or on flowers, but is usually seen resting on leaves.

Remarks: In 1978, PWH found a single specimen of this species in a small aspen woodland close to the dam at the east end of Lake Diefenbaker in western Saskatchewan. It may possibly occur also in wooded coulees between this location and the closest colonies in eastern Saskatchewan.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.