common wood nymph

(Cercyonis pegala)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

common wood nymph


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed


Common and abundant


One brood from late June to early September.


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


Wingspan: 1¾ to 3

    Photo by Tom Baker

This geographically variable, medium-sized butterfly is larger than most satyrs. It is about 1¼ long and has 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.


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.

Larval Food

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

Adult Food

Flower nectar, rotting fruit.

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.



Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 7, 20, 21, 29, 71.

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.

What’s in a Name?
The common name is a misnomer. This species is found in open areas or at the edges of woodlands.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)











No Rank:



No Rank:




Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])



Nymphalidae (brush-foots)



Satyriinae (satyrs and wood-nymphs)







Subordinate Taxa

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 wood nymph

common wood-nymph

large wood nymph





























Visitor Photos
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Tom Baker
  common wood nymph   common wood nymph Photos

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
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Common Wood Nymph  

Cercyonis pegala

  Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)
Bill Keim
  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:




Visitor Videos
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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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