Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii

Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly

FWS Focus

Overview

Characteristics
Overview

Mitchell's satyr is a small, brown butterfly that lives in prairie fen habitat. The decline of the species is attributed to changes in habitat and hydrology, and suppression of natural disturbance events important to maintaining fen habitat. 

Scientific Name

Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii
Common Name
Mitchell's satyr Butterfly
FWS Category
Insects
Kingdom

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Food

Characteristics
Food

Mitchell’s satyr caterpillars feed on one or more species of grass-like plants called sedges. Adults occasionally feed on nectar.

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Color & Pattern

The Mitchell's satyr butterfly has an overall rich brown color. The ventral surface, or underside, of the forewing and hindwing contains a row of four to five black, yellow-ringed ocelli, or eyespots, with the central three eyespots on the hindwing being the largest. Two orange bands encircle the eyespots. Mature larvae are pale green with pale, longitudinal stripes and a bifurcate tail.

Size & Shape

The Mitchell's satyr is a medium-sized butterfly.

MeasurementsWingspan: 1.75 in

Characteristic category

Life Cycle

Characteristics
Life Cycle

Mitchell's satyr has four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The eggs are laid on grasses, sedges or the underside of small forb seedlings. Eggs hatch into caterpillars, or larvae, in about a week. The caterpillar grows throughout the year, shedding its skin many times. The fourth stage caterpillar hibernates under the snow and emerges the following spring to resume its development. In late-May to late-June, the caterpillar pupate, forming a chrysalis. After 10 to 15 days, the adult butterfly emerges. The adult lived two to three weeks. 

Reproduction

Mitchell's satyr adults emerge June through July. Adults live two to three weeks to mate, disperse and lay eggs. 

Characteristic category

Similar Species

Characteristics
Similar Species

The Saint Francis' satyr is an endangered butterfly subspecies found only in North Carolina. 

Characteristic category

Habitat

Characteristics
Habitat

The Mitchell’s satyr is restricted to rare wetlands called fens, which are low nutrient wetlands that receive carbonate-rich ground water from seeps and springs. The southern populations are typically associated with beaver-influenced wetlands that are sedge dominated, and occasionally semi-open riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

Learn more about riparian
or floodplain forest areas.

Wetland

Areas such as marshes or swamps that are covered often intermittently with shallow water or have soil saturated with moisture.

Geography

Characteristics
Range

The Mitchell’s satyr butterfly is one of the most geographically-restricted eastern butterflies. Historically, the Mitchell’s satyr was found in New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and possibly Maryland. Today, the butterfly can be found in only nine locations in Michigan and one location in Indiana, along with a single county in Virginia and restricted areas within Mississippi and Alabama. The southern populations were discovered in the early 2000s.

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