common wood nymph

(Cercyonis pegala)

Conservation Status
common wood nymph
Photo by Tom Baker
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed


Common wood nymph is a geographically variable, medium-sized butterfly.

Adults are about 1¼ long, larger than most satyrs, and have a 1¾ to 3 wingspan. There is a light form, with light brown wings and body, and a dark form, with dark brown wings and body.

It perches with wings closed, so the upperside of the wings are rarely seen. The underside of the forewing is brown and has a 2 large, black, yellow-ringed eyespots with white pupils. Usually, just one of these spots is visible on a perched individual. Common wood nymph (C. p. pegala) has a yellow patch surrounding the eyespots. Dull-eyed grayling (C. p. nephele) does not. A single thin, dark, wavy line separates the darker forward portion of the wings from the usually somewhat paler rear portion.

The underside of the hindwing is brown with usually 6 similar but smaller eyespots.




Wingspan: 1¾ to 3


Similar Species


Eyed brown (Lethe eurydice) forewing has 4 much smaller eyespots.

Northern pearly eye (Lethe anthedon) wing undersides have at least 2 dark, wavy lines. The forewing has 4 eyespots.


Fields, prairies, meadows, bogs, and woodland edges.




One brood from late June to early September.






Life Cycle


Females lay single eggs on host grasses in late summer. Caterpillars hatch in the fall and overwinter. They begin feeding in the spring. Males emerge from late June to August, seldom feed, and last for about 2 weeks. Females emerge later and last for about 4 weeks.


Larva Hosts


Grasses, including purpletop tridens (Tridens flavus var. flavus) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii).


Adult Food


Flower nectar, rotting fruit.


Distribution Map



7, 20, 21, 29, 71.




Common and abundant



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)  


Satyriinae (satyrs and wood-nymphs)  


  Subtribe Coenonymphina  



Subordinate Taxa


At least 21 subspecies have been described based in some cases on subtle color variations. Populations in the eastern part of the species’ range often have individuals of two or more subspecies. This suggests that some of the differences may be color morphs as opposed to separate subspecies. Darkness may be an adaptation within a population or an individual to the amount of direct sunlight to which it is exposed.


blue-eyed grayling (Cercyonis pegala alope)

Carson Valley wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala carsonensis)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala abbotti)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala ariane)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala blanca)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala damei)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala incana)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala ino)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala olympus)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala paladum)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala paucilineatus)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala pegala)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala texana)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala utahensis)

common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala walkerensis)

dull-eyed grayling (Cercyonis pegala nephele)

Gabb’s satyr (Cercyonis pegala gabbii)

ox-eyed satyr (Cercyonis pegala boopis)

Stephen’s satyr (Cercyonis pegala stephensi)

Wheeler’s satyr (Cercyonis pegala wheeleri)

White River wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala pluvialis)






Common Names


common wood nymph

common wood-nymph

large wood nymph


The common name is a misnomer. This species is found in open areas or at the edges of woodlands.






























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Tom Baker

    common wood nymph   common wood nymph  

Light Form with Hindwing Spots

    common wood nymph   common wood nymph  
    common wood nymph      

Light Form with No Hindwing Spots

    common wood nymph   common wood nymph  

Dark Form

    common wood nymph   common wood nymph  



Common Wood Nymph
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Common Wood Nymph  

Cercyonis pegala

Cercyonis pegala (Common Wood-Nymph)
Allen Chartier
  Cercyonis pegala (Common Wood-Nymph)  
Common Wood-Nymph
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Common Wood-Nymph  
Common Wood-nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Uploaded on Feb 18, 2011

Common Wood-nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

* Family: Nymphalidae,
* Subfamily: Satyrinae,
* Genus: Cercyonis,
* Phylum: Arthropoda,
* Species: C. pegala,
* Class: Insecta,
* Order: Lepidoptera,
* Type: Bugs,
* Diet: Omnivore,
* Average life span in the wild: Several weeks to several years,
* Size: wingspan measures 5.3 to 7.3 cm (2.1 to 2.9 in).
* Weight: no data

** Cercyonis pegala is a North American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is also known as the Wood-nymph, Grayling, Blue-eyed Grayling, and the Goggle Eye.

More info:




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Other Videos
  Common Wood Nymph (Nymphalidae: Cercyonis pegala) on Leaf
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Aug 11, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (10 August 2010). Go here to learn more about this species:

  Common Wood Nymph (Nymphalidae: Cercyonis pegala) on Blossom
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Aug 1, 2010

Photographed at Kelly Slough NWR, North Dakota (31 July 2010). Go here to learn more about this species:

  Common Wood-Nymph
Darrell Neufeld

Published on Aug 5, 2012

Birds Hill Park,Manitoba
Veery singing in the background.




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