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Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Wood-Nymph



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Image Credit: Tom V., taken near the Washington-Idaho border
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Image Credit: Audrey M. from Boonville, NY
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Image Credit: Eric B. from TX
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Image Credit: Arch Baker, taken in OK
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One of the largest Wood-Nymphs, adults are fond of flowers and moist, stinky organic matter while larvae feed on grass.



Updated: 07/16/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Common Wood-Nymphs are found in Canada and all U.S. states. This brown and orange butterfly looks different on top compared to underneath. The tops of the wings may or may not have large orange patches on the edge of the forewings depending on the region. Two small eyespots are near the outer edge, and a single one sits at the bottom of each hindwing. Underneath, the brown wings have brown lines that mimic the ring patterns seen on a tree stump. The forewing has two yellow-ringed black eyespots. These eyespots may seem similar in size, though it is possible one is slightly larger than the other. The hindwing may have a cluster of eyespots or none, depending on the variation.

The Common Wood-Nymph is not a strong flier, and may be seen more often on flowers and rotting fruit than in flight. Fresh animal dung and mud puddles are also frequented by this species. Females Caterpillars feed on grasses like purpletop in the spring. Despite the name, the adult butterfly can be seen in open areas like prairies and meadows.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Cercyonis
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            Species: pegala
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Cercyonis pegala
Other Name(s): Goggle Eye Butterfly
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 45mm to 76mm (1.77" to 2.99")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, yellow, white, black, blue, orange
Descriptors: two eyespots, white patch, yellow patch, flying, rings
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 45mm (1.8in) and 76mm (3.0in)
Lo: 45mm
Md: 60.5mm
Hi: 76mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Wood-Nymph may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Common Wood-Nymph. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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