wood nymph

Common Wood-Nymph

The Common Wood-nymph (Cercyonis pegala), also called Wood Nymph or Grayling, is a North American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Satyrinae.


The upper side is mainly dark brown. The forewing has two eyespots with a yellow band around them. Individuals from the Maine interior north and west to northern Illinois and the Dakotas lack this yellow band. Intermediates bridge the color gap. The under side is similar except the hindwing has three to six eye spots with bluish centers. The wingspan of this butterfly is 2.1-2.9 in.


This butterfly may be seen flying around woodland edges, woods, brushy fields, prairies, salt marshes, wet meadows, and bogs.

Nectar Plants

The Common Wood-Nymph feeds on a variety of flowers such as butterfly bush, steeplebush, and thistles. They also feed on rotting fruit and fungi.

Host Plants

Its host plants include bread grass, bluegrass, bluestem, oatgrass, poverty oatgrass, purple-top, and tall red-top grass.

Life Cycle

The female is the active flight partner. The lemon-yellow or pale pinkish eggs are ribbed and barrel-shaped. They are laid singly on or near the host plants. The larva is pale green and is covered with short hairs. Two small pinkish tails project from the rear. The pale green chrysalis is striped in white or pale yellow. It is suspended from grass leaves. The Common Wood Nymph overwinters as a first instar larva. The larva hatches at the very end of the season, and climbs to the base of the host plant where it will spend the winter. Males can live for up to 2-3 weeks while females can live up to several months.

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