Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 11:15 AM
I work in the Nature Center running programs for children in Zion. We have this wonderful butterfly display but who ever did it did not identify the butterflies. This is the only one I have not been able to identify.
The trick is, it was pinned upside down so I can not see the upper part of the wings. Can you please help me out so I can sound smart when the kids ask me to name all the butterflies?
Since this is for educational purposes I hope I’m not stuck in unnecessary carnage!
Zion National Park, UT
Dear Ranger Holly,
We absolutely love your letter. Fear not. You will not be categorized as Unnecessary Carnage. In the interest of you sounding as smart as possible, you may now tell the children that this is a Common Ringlet, Coenonympha tullia. Jeffrey Glassberg in his wonderful book, Butterflies Through Binoculars The West, writes of the Common Ringlet: “Small. Variable, but distinctive. Usually with a single FW subapical eyespot (sometimes faint or absent) and a straight FW postmedian line. HW ground color varies (mainly geographically) from green-gray to brown to pale gray or off white. HW postmedian line characteristically jagged. HW eyespots prominent or almost absent.” Later, perhaps as a way to justify this vague set of identification characteristics, Glassberg writes: “As the Supreme Court has said about pornography, it is difficult to define, but you’ll recognize it when you see it.” We strongly recommend you getting a copy of Glassberg’s book for identification purposes.