Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia [W. H. Edwards])
Wing span: 1 1/3 - 1 1/2 inches (3.4 - 3.8 cm).
Identification: Extremely variable geographically, with at least 4 subspecies. Wings range from dark orange-brown to pale cream. Underside of forewing usually has a small eyespot near its tip. Underside of hindwing is gray-green with a wavy white median line.
Life history: To seek females, males patrol above the tops of grasses with a bouncy flight. First- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate in mats of dead grass.
Flight: One to two broods from March-October, depending on locality.
Caterpillar hosts: Grasses and rushes.
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Grassy, open areas in a wide variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, grasslands, and tundra.
Range: Holarctic. In North America from Alaska south through the western mountains to Baja California Norte, southeast Arizona, and central New Mexico; across southern Canada to Quebec and New England; south to Long Island. Isolated populations in Newfoundland and New Brunswick. The range is still expanding in the East.
Conservation: Not usually required.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo.