Dateline: March 23, 2013*
The Carolina Satyr Butterfly (Hermeuptychia sosybius) is one of several beautiful butterflies that are often seen during the cooler months in Florida. They are low flying and not particularly fond of the paparazzi given that they don’t seem to want to hold still for a photo. Every now and again I luck out, but the chase can be exhausting.
With a rare look at the dorsal view I discovered that the Carolina Satyr is a rather drab creature, but a study of the ventral side shows rather attractive markings, especially around the eyespots that are rimmed with gold. They generally land in a ventral pose, I guess so people like me don’t go around calling them homely. Showing off that jewelry, so to speak.
They likely stay low to the ground since the larval hosts are various grasses. Carpetgrass (Axonopus spp.), a Florida native and Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) which is not native are two listed hosts.
There also is indication that two other grasses are a possibility; Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) non-native in Florida and native St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum). Just as a reminder, St. Augustine grass is NOT meant to be green year round and it can survive on seasonal rains in its proper habitat. If you use supplemental watering to maintain the green coloring, you defeat the purpose of a native plant garden and sustainable plant entries. Allowing it to go brown during it’s dormant season is as nature intended but you must have the correct conditions for this plant in the first place.
Adults feed on tree sap and rotting fruit but in my yard they can’t seem to resist the Bidens alba as well as evidenced in the featured photo in this article’s headmast.
Their range, is pretty much the eastern half of the U.S. with southern New Jersey being it’s northern edge. If you live in that area, keep your nose to the ground and you just might get a glimpse of this oft-overlooked butterfly. Since I provide necessary habitat, I plan to keep my nose even closer to the ground in the hopes of seeing a caterpillar or chrysalis of this species that in my “eyes” has a definite charm.
*This is an update of a tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on March 23, 2013 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.