A Gemmed Satyr Butterfly

Late this afternoon, on a warm, sunny day when I’d been doing housework, I walked outside for a few minutes just to get some fresh air and see what I could find. Along the edge of our driveway, a small, pale-brown butterfly was fluttering low over a thick layer of dry brown leaves. Its color was so close to that of the fallen leaves it seemed to disappear each time it settled on one for a moment.

I had binoculars with me, but no phone, so I couldn’t try for a photo, but I did see a beautiful, close-up view several times as it paused on one leaf and then another and another. It never stayed still for long, and it held its wings up, not outspread when it was still. Its pale, gentle brown wings were patterned only with subtle reddish-brown wavy lines. I guessed it was some kind of Satyr butterfly, but there were no prominent eye spots. The markings that defined it were a line of small dark spots on the back edge of the underside of the lower wing, surrounded by iridescence that glittered like gold in the sunlight. 

I watched for several minutes as it fluttered over the dead leaves, settling here and there, until it finally flew further away and out of sight. I had never seen one before so I couldn’t identify it until I got back inside and looked it up. 

It was a Gemmed Satyr Butterfly, Cyllopsis gemma. An exquisite little creature, and so quietly colored and marked, so well camouflaged, that it could very easily escape any notice by humans at all. There was nothing bold about it to catch the eye. But once seen up close, it was delightful and very pretty, with the iridescence like tiny jewels decorating its lower back wing. Its name captures it perfectly.

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