Common Wood-Nymph

Cercyonis pegala

This is by far the most common butterfly in the state on a regular basis. From 2004-2007 they were seen on all but one North American Butterfly Association (NABA) count, and an average of more than 1000 butterflies per year were observed during these counts. At Jersey Flats in the Northern Kettle Moraine Forest, more than 200 of this species are seen a regular basis. Unlike the Monarchs and other showy butterflies, this species is not seen far from its natural habitat, and its lack of color makes it less conspicuous than other butterfly species.

Weekly sightings for Common Wood-Nymph

Identifying characteristics

Below, this brown butterfly has two large eyespots on the forewing surrounded by a yellow ring while the hindwing has a variable number of visible eyespots. Above, brown with two eyespots on the forewing, but these are rarely seen in the field. I have not seen it in Wisconsin, but in Michigan and Illinois a variant occurs that in whcih the yellow surrounding the dark eyespots on the forewing is larger and connected, becoming a yellow patch with two darker eyespots within it.

Similar species

None in Wisconsin.


Grasslands and open fields near woodlands. Prairie restorations are often hot spots for this species.


One brood from late June and often into early September.


This is the most abundant of the satyrs in Wisconsin and is to be expected throughout the state in July.


Map showing sighting locations for Common Wood-Nymph
Map key
Common Wood-NymphClick to enlarge

Rocky Run Oak Savanna SNA, Columbia Co., WI, June 30, 2004.

Common Wood-NymphClick to enlarge

Lodi Marsh SNA, Dane Co., WI, July 30, 2005.

Common Wood-NymphClick to enlarge

Mecan Discovery Center, Marquette Co., WI, July 20, 2002.

Common Wood-NymphClick to enlarge

Hamerstrom Preserve, Plainfield, Waushara Co., WI, July 24, 2003.

Common Wood-NymphClick to enlarge

Muir Lake SNA, Marquette Co., WI, July 7, 2005.