Ah the Wood Nymph butterfly. The rich chocolate color of fine leather or of a scrumptious Hershey bar. These medium sized butterflies capture the hiker’s imagination because from May to late September they are the trail markers that we encounter as we enjoy our way alongside forest edge, fields and most cut edges. Some zip away and out of sight, some fly ahead just 15 feet, while others hesitate and stand their ground.
Cercyonis pegala offers another benefit. They display fascinating diversity. While the markings of most other butterflies show hardly any variety, those of wood nymphs present a great deal of difference. Large eyes or smaller eyes, yellow, orange or intermediate colors, blues, or whites or indeterminate pastels in the eyes. Rich browns to a host of brown variations in the wing. You notice these things when you pause to examine your trail sentries. It just makes for fascinating travel.
I have been straining my brain to remember having ever seen a wood nymph butterfly nectaring at a flower. If I have and can’t remember, then even so I’ve spotted hundreds over the years, and though I’ve seen them at scat, and attracted them to traps of banana/fruit, visits to flowers elude my memory.
Our instant individual was on Nichol Road trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. On my approach it quickly flew off, straight to a nearby tree. It perched on the opposite side of the trunk. I approached very slowly, saw it there…and it allowed my to shoot quite a few macro- images. Probably a female, with larger eye spots and larger in size
I kept and now use this image because it effectively shares the real time look of wood nymphs and because of the nice interplay offered by bark and butterfly.