Ridings' Satyr (Neominois ridingsii) (W.H. Edwards, 1865)
Diagnosis: The upperside of this distinctive species is pale grey brown, and both wings have a band of large elongated cream spots. There are two large white-centred black eye-spots in the forewing band (occasionally a small third spot) and one on the hindwing. On the underside, the forewing pattern is similar, but lighter, and the hindwing has a darker brown medial band and a dark, narrow zigzag line near the margin. Wingspan: 33 to 45 mm.
Subspecies: Five are currently recognized; subspecies minimus occurs in Canada.
Range: Ridings' Satyr is found in the western U.S. from Arizona to North Dakota, and in Canada only in the southern part of the Prairie Provinces, north as far as Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba (historical records only), Cutknife, Saskatchewan, and Rumsey, Alberta.
Similar Species: This is a unique-looking satyrid.
Early Stages: The larva is reddish tan, pale green on the sides, with a black dorsal stripe andalternating light and dark lateral stripes. It is covered with short white hairs. The head is yellowishbrown with light brown vertical stripes. It feeds on several species of grass including Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis).
Abundance: This species is locally common in Saskatchewan and Alberta, but is believed to beextirpated from Manitoba.
Flight Season: Neominois ridingsii flies in Canada from mid-June to mid-August. There is onegeneration per year and occasionally a partial second brood.
Habits: The preferred habitat of ridingsii is dry, shortgrass prairie and sandy meadows, usually withareas of bare soil. They often land in the bare areas, where their underside pattern makes them verydifficult to see. They are not often seen flying, and when disturbed fly for only a short distance with arapid flight before dropping into the grass, more like a grasshopper than a butterfly.
Remarks: This species may be extirpated in Manitoba. It was last seen in the province in 1953,although it had previously been quite common in sandy prairies.
© 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.
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