Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gemmed Satyr Egg

Just so no one thinks the topic has to do with eggs of mythical creatures; I’ll begin by saying that a Gemmed Satyr is a species of butterfly.  I’m still trying to get a good picture of a Carolina Satyr, so my attention is diverted every time one of the small Satyrs flies past.  The Little Wood Satyrs have just about reached the end of their run, so any small Satyr I see is most likely to be either a Carolina or a Gemmed.  Most pursuits end with my being outdistanced by the butterfly.  They aren’t particularly fast, but their flight beneath the low branches of trees and shrubs makes it necessary for me to take my eyes from the butterfly and scan for broken off cedar branch stubs upon which I could easily be impaled.  Once you lose sight of the butterfly, it’s hard to reconnect.  I had a little bit of luck yesterday evening when the Satyr I was pursuing came to rest about 20 feet in front of me.

This individual turned out to be a Gemmed Satyr.  I didn’t get a great shot, but it was enough for a positive ID.  I’ve gotten a couple of good shots of Gemmed Satyr in the past, so missing this one didn’t matter.

During the chase, I noticed the butterfly land on and curl its body around a grass leaf.  The larvae of Gemmed Satyrs feed on various species of grass.  I suspected the butterfly was laying an egg.  It remained on the grass for only a couple of seconds before flying on.  I wanted to search for the egg, but I didn’t want to stop following.  I took a picture of the grass clump, so I could find the exact spot later.  I would normally drop my handkerchief on the spot, but the camera was already out and ready to go. 

I was right about the egg.  It wasn’t hard to find once I got close.

The slightly greenish color reminds me of a fluorescent bead.  As far as I could tell, the egg was a featureless sphere.  I guess there’s not much need for ridges or other structural features intended for strength if the egg only has to survive the short period prior to hatching. 

The grass with egg is within inches of the top of the creek bank.  A rather precarious position should we slip back into a flood pattern like those we had earlier.  I’m not sure in what form the Gemmed Satyr survives the winter.  Some sources say it overwinters as an older larva, but a few mention overwintering as an adult.  Which ever it is, I hope it happens in a more secure location than this.


  1. Ooohh, I'm going to keep a closer eye out!!

  2. Hi Karen. I hope your increased watchfulness produces a wonderful sight.