Mexico, USA & Canada
Small Wood Nymph
Cercyonis oetus phocus
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - SATYRINAE
Tribe - SATYRINI
Cercyonis oetus phocus Radium Hot
Springs, British Colombia, Canada
© Martin Gascoigne-Pees
The genus Cercyonis
comprises of 6 species, all of which are found only in North
The uppersides of Cercyonis
males are typically dark brown and most species have a pair of very
conspicuous and widely spaced ocelli set within a band of orange on
the outer half of the forewings. Most species have between 1 to 3
smaller ocelli on the upperside hindwings. Females are generally
similar but their ocelli are set within pale yellowish bands. In a
few species including oetus the ocelli on the uppersides of both
sexes are small, and set against a plain earthy brown ground colour.
In all species the ocelli are more prominent on the underside.
Cercyonis oetus is found in the western
states of the USA and in the provinces of British Columbia and
Alberta in Canada. The illustrated subspecies
phocus is endemic to British Columbia.
Despite its common name oetus and other
Cercyonis species are found in open
habitats. including chaparral, sagebrush and alpine meadows. In
British Colombia the butterfly is associated with open grassy areas
bordering coniferous woodland in the Rocky Mountains.
The egg is
lemon yellow mottled with brown. It is laid singly. The newly
hatched caterpillar feeds on its egg shell and then immediately
enters hibernation. It awakens in the spring, and then feeds on
various grasses. The fully grown larva is pale green with a series
of fine dark green, yellowish and white lateral and dorsal stripes.
It has a green head and a pair of reddish caudal prongs.
imbibe mineralised moisture from damp tracks. Both sexes nectar at a
wide range of plants, favouring the yellow flowers of