Coenonympha tullia
Common Ringlet

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name: Ochre Ringlet.
Note: This is really a complex of species or subspecies, including ochracea, ampelos, california, and others.
Caterpillar: The caterpillars vary in appearance, but generally are green to brown and striped lengthwise with dark green along the back and lighter shades of green and white along the sides. The head and body appear bumpy and there may be two pinkish "tails."
Adult: This is a medium-sized butterfly, with a wingspan of 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 inches. Its appearance can vary, both between and within localities. The upperside can be brown to orange to cream, and may be marked with a small eyespot at the tip of the forewing. Underneath can be brown to gray to green. The underside of the forewing may be clouded with orange and may have an eyespot. The underside of the hindwing often has a wavy cream-colored line, and may have one or several eyespots.

The species is holarctic, which means it generally can be found throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, it occurs from Alaska south to southern California, throughout the western third of the U.S., and east through all of southern Canada and the northern portion of the middle and eastern U.S. It occurs commonly in Idaho.

It can be found in any variety of open habitats, from fields and meadows to open woodlands and tundra.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars eat the leaves of various grasses (Poaceae).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.

There can be one to many generations of caterpillars each summer, with the last brood overwintering in a physiological state called diapause, typically in a mat of dead grass. Chrysalises can be found suspended from grass leaves. The timing of the flight of adults varies within its range, with most flying from May through August or September. Butterflies fly slowly and erratically. In California, butterflies may enter estivation, a sort of summer hibernation.

Males actively patrol for receptive females. Females lay yellow eggs on or near grasses (Poaceae).

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5
populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.