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Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Little Wood-Satyr

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Gary S. from South Burlington, VT
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Often seen in all kinds of summer weather, Little Wood-Satyrs charm with their many eyespots and silver streaks.

Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This light brown butterfly is abundant in the eastern part of the continent. A brighter variation seen in the southern part of its range may also be called Viola's Wood-Satyr. It is believed to be the same species, but it may just be extremely closely related. It is also possible that intermediate variations of the Little Wood-Satyr exist, but no strong confirmation means that no new species offshoot exists yet. What is certain is that they all have two black eyespots rimmed in yellow that sit on the underside of each wing, some of which have twin pupils. Silvery marks between the eyespots gleam in sunlight and are more pronounced in some individuals than others. Two long orange-brown lines cross the wings near the center and two more round the bottom edges. On the top of the wings, the eyespots are still visible though they are smaller; the hindwings may only seem to have one eyespot. The spots may appear to be encircled in a light brown watermark. The face of the Little Wood-Satyr has a tuft of hair on the front and only four of its six legs are visible when it is standing. It is a type of Brush-footed Butterfly, which means two of its legs are much smaller than the other four and are not used for walking. Instead, these short hairy legs help the butterfly smell and taste its surroundings.

Caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses. One to three broods are produced each year.

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


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Megisto
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            Species: cymela
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Megisto cymela
Other Name(s): Viola's Wood-Satyr
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 29mm to 48mm (1.14" to 1.88")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, tan, yellow, black, blue, white, orange
Descriptors: light brown, silvery, yellow rings, eyespots, flying, intermediates, two stripes

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 29mm (1.1in) and 48mm (1.9in)
Lo: 29mm
Md: 38.5mm
Hi: 48mm
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
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Little Wood-Satyr 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 Little Wood-Satyr. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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