Common Alpine: Underrepresented on our site

Butterfly ID
Location: Prince Albert, N. Saskatchewan, Canada
June 13, 2011 3:25 pm
Hello! I can usually find almost anything I need ID’d on your site, but this butterfly eludes me. (And I’ve been through 65 pages of pictures here, as well as any books I can find!)
It was along the riverbank of the N. Saskatchewan River in Northern Sask.
The view of it’s open wings are blurry but it appeared to be mostly a shimmer dark brown/bronze colour.
I am thinking a satyr or maybe a buckeye of some sort? Can you steer me in the right direction.
Thanks for any help!
Signature: Tami

Common Alpine

Hi Tami,
Alas, your request arrived during our absence from the office for a week, and we are trying our best to respond to and post as many letters as we can.  Your request has us most excited, and the reason you were unable to find your lovely Common Alpine,
Erebia epipsodea, on our website, is because your photos are a first for us despite the word “common” being a part of its name.  Additionally, the tribe Satyrini, the Nymphs and Satyrs, are very underrepresented in our archives.  This is probably because these species are often associated with remote wooded areas and they are very rarely found in gardens.  BugGuide has some nice photos of the Common Alpine, however, there is no information regarding it nor is there any information on this group up to the subfamily level on BugGuide. This is a sad oversight on this lovely group of generally brown butterflies.  Jeffrey Glassberg writes in his wonderful book, Butterflies Through Binoculars, the West, that they are found in:  “moist meadows and praries, from Rocky Mountain foothills to high elevations, occasionally above the treeline.”  We find you photos especially interesting because Glassberg also writes on the introduction to the subfamily Satyrinae:  “Most species rarely visit flowers.”  We have a vague recollection of reading in the past that Satyrs and Wood Nymphs often feed on tree sap, rotted fruit, animal feces, and even putrefying flesh, however, we cannot recall where we read that.  BugGuide does have several photos though of Common Alpines nectaring from flowers.  The Butterflies and Moths of North America website does indicate that adults feed on “Flower nectar.”  We did locate this online article on the Common Alpine.  According to the Colorado Front Range Butterflies website:  “Males patrol all day to watch for females.”

Common Alpine

Thank you so much for that speedy response.  You guys work fast there!
The links you sent were great, helping me to also identify a Northern cloudywing skipper.  I have actually ordered the Butterflies Through Binoculars book you mentioned, which will be a huge help and interesting reading.
I have, since taking those pictures of that quite large common alpine, seen a number of them quite a bit smaller and not nearly as brightly coloured, but all are in the meadow and forested areas along the river.  In searching them out,  I believe they are possibly a subspecies which is interesting!
While there is plentiful wild animal feces and dead animals in forested areas, I have only ever seen these butterflies on flowers, which for some reason, appeals to my sense of how well-mannered butterflies should behave.
Thanks again for your wonderful response.
Tami

Leave a Comment