Santa Ana Mts., CA. © Peter J. Bryant.

Great Basin Wood Nymph

Cercyonis sthenele

Lepidoptera: Satyridae

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Fisherman's Camp trail, Cleveland National Forest, Riverside County, CA. 6/3/12. © Diane Brodeur.

Ortega Highway at the Candy Store, Orange County, CA.7/25/10. © Robert Gorman

Ortega Highway at the Candy Store, Orange County, CA.7/25/10. © Robert Gorman

Characteristics: Dark brown in color with two "eyespots" on ventral forewing. The female has two large distinct eyespots on the dorsal forewing; male eyespots are indistinct on the dorsal forewing. Forewing length: 17-24 mm.

Similar Species: Not easily mistaken for any other local butterfly.

Habitats, Behavior: A very rapid flier along forest roads in the Santa Ana Mountains, occasionally captured resting in grassy areas. One worn specimen was captured sipping moisture from sand along the stream flowing through lower Modjeska Canyon. Adults occasionally nectar at Wild Buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum.

Distribution: There are records from many locations and elevations in the Santa Ana Mountains. Phil McNally reports a sighting at Villa Park Dam (elev. 600 ft.), an unusually low elevation report.

Flight Period: Although most captures have been in June, actual Orange County records extend from June 1 to August 15. Emmel and Emmel (1973) report that "Males fly at their peak in June and females are more abundant in July". Captures occur as late as September.

Larval Foodplants: Unidentified grass species.

Other Remarks: The Sylvan Wood Nymph becomes common in the county only after fire closure of the Santa Ana Mountains. At many locations in the mountains north of Orange County, e.g., the Tehachapi Range and Mt. Pinos area in Kern County, the species swarms from late June through July.

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.