Eyed Brown

Satyrodes eurydice eurydice

The Eyed Brown is a common species of wet meadows throughout the state. It is often seen lazily working its way through the tall grasses and sedges, rarely in a hurry or flying above the vegetation, even when disturbed. On a Trempealeau NABA count in 2002, we counted 74 of this species, but the number was limited only because the moist tall grasslands where it is found difficult to walk through, especially on a muggy, 90-degree day.

The Eyed Brown’s cousin the Appalachian Brown is very similar, but resides mainly in woodlands or woodland edges. Where a woodland trail does go near an open marshland, these two species can be found flying together and provide a lot of fun for the butterfly watcher to differentiate.

Weekly sightings for Eyed Brown

Identifying characteristics

Above, the Eyed Brown is a brown butterfly with a lighter area toward the margin where the eyespots are located. The forewing eyespots are smaller and less prominent than the hindwing spots. As the butterfly ages and wears, it becomes increasingly lighter, so very worn individuals look almost white.

Below, this species has prominent dark eyespots, each with a light dot in the center and four yellow/brown rings around it. Not all the circles are complete, especially on the forewing. The postmedian lines on both the forewing and hindwing are very jagged, with a prominent pointed ‘V’. The post basal line is not usually smooth and has a jog at the second vein.

Similar species

The Appalachian Brown is very similar, but has smoother post median lines with no jagged V-shaped mark, and also has a straighter post basal line. I have never seen an Appalachian Brown in the open marsh, but I have seen Eyed Browns in woodland edges near open marshlands, flying together with Appalachian Browns.

The Wisconsin DNR listed the Smokey Eyed Brown as a taxa of special concern. Most references call it the “Smoky Eyed Brown”. There are very few references to this subspecies online and also very little information about how it differs from the Eyed Brown. Most references say that it is darker than the Eyed Brown and also includes 5 spots on the forewing below instead of the four spots as in the Eyed Brown. They do note that there is considerable intergradation between the subspecies. I have decided not to list this subspecies for the state.


Open marshland and wet meadows throughout Wisconsin.


One brood. Flies from late June through August. Individuals found in August are usually very worn and much lighter.


Occasionally very common in large open, wet grasslands.


Map showing sighting locations for Eyed Brown
Map key
Eyed BrownClick to enlarge

Bass Lake SNA, Waushara Co., WI, July 10, 2003.

Eyed BrownClick to enlarge

Upper Chaffee Creek Meadows,Marquette Co., WI, June 28, 2002.

Eyed BrownClick to enlarge

Poygan Marsh, Waushara Co., WI, August 8, 2003.