Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Blue-eyed Grayling 蓝眼灰蝶 (Satyridae, Family of Wood Nymphs)

The graylings of wood nymphs flit softly through the shadows of the woods where their dark gray or brown colors make them hard to see. The two blue-eyed Grayling are more sharply blue than in other similar species, but there are so many color varieties that grade gradually into one another, it is often hard to tell them apart. The one shown in the picture is found mainly in the east from Virginia to Maine and Quebec, but other forms are found all over the country as far west as Oregon.

You might ask: “Since the butterfly wants to camouflage itself brown to look like the shadows and brown bark in the woods, why does it have blue eyes on its wings?” The answer is probably that the eyes, by twinkling here and there when the light hits them, confuse an enemy so that the butterfly is hard to catch. Another answer is that when the butterfly alights somewhere on a dead leaf, it is best for the uniform brown of the wings to be broken up a little by specks of other colors just as would actually happen among many a bunch of brown leaves.

The light green caterpillar, marked with thin lines of golden yellow, feeds on grasses where it too perfectly camouflages itself by looking like part of the grass leaf or stem. The squat-shaped chrysalid, looking as if covered half-way by two little shields, is also beautiful light green.

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