Woodland Ringlet

Erebia medusa


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Erebia medusa

Switzerland, June 2013

Erebia medusa

Switzerland, July 2019

Erebia medusa

Switzerland, July 2019

Erebia medusa

Female, Switzerland, June 2018 - note the apical spot, lined up just like in de Prunner's ringlet

Switzerland, May 2007

Underside, Switzerland, May 2007

Erebia medusa

Switzerland, May 2011

Erebia medusa

Switzerland, June 2010

Erebia medusa

Switzerland, June 2010

Switzerland, May 2007

Switzerland, May 2007

Switzerland, May 2005

Erebia medusa egg

Egg, Switzerland, June 2018

Erebia medusa distribution

Distribution

I used to regard this as a common May and June species in the lush hay meadows near me in Switzerland (c. 1100m in Vaud), but it seems to have become much scarcer in recent years. It doesn't fly higher up my own mountain. In contrast, in Valais I only seem to find it at altitude, usually in July, though that may reflect my habits rather than the butterfly's. In Valais it is replaced at lower altitudes by de Prunner's ringlet. I have also seen the butterfly in the Vosges, and it is in general quite widespread in Europe, though generally local in the western parts of its range. It flies lower than many Erebia - as low as 300m according to Tolman - and favours rather lush meadows, or at least long grass. It may be found in woodland clearings or near woods but despite its name it is not exclusively a woodland species.

Identification is usually quite easy. This is one of the relatively few Erebia species where the underside is the same as the upperside - a good first indicator if both surfaces are seen. The eyespots on the forewing have white pupils and are set in reddish blotches, rather than a neat red band. If the blotches do coalesce extensively, the band they form is very irregular. Sometimes there is an apical spot on the forewing, placed rather as in de Prunner's ringlet, but the underside and the blotchiness just describe separate the woodland ringlet from this species. Some forms of bright-eyed ringlet may resemble small woodland ringlets. A useful point to note is that the underside of the tip of the antennae is pale buff in woodland ringlet but dark in bright-eyed.

Larval foodplants include sheep's fescue, red fescue, upright brome and wood millet. The life-cycle is completed in one year and the adult butterfly fly from May through to August (at the highest altitudes).