Ringlet

Aphantopus hyperantus (a-fan-TOH-puss hy-per-AN-tuss)

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
 

Wingspan
Male: 42 - 48mm
Female: 46 - 52mm

Checklist Number
59.009

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Subfamily:SatyrinaeBoisduval, 1833
Tribe:ManioliniGrote, 1897
Genus:AphantopusWallengren, 1853
Subgenus:  
Species:hyperantus(Linnaeus, 1758)

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Introduction

This is a relatively-common butterfly that is unmistakable when seen at rest - the rings on the hindwings giving this butterfly its common name. The uppersides are a uniform chocolate brown that distinguish this butterfly from the closely-related Meadow Brown. Despite this uniformity, a newly-emerged adult is a surprisingly beautiful insect, the velvety wings providing a striking contrast with the delicate white fringes found on the wing edges. The dark colouring also allows this butterfly to quickly warm up - this butterfly being one of the few that flies on overcast days.

Variation in this butterfly is primarily focused on the rings on the hindwings, the lanceolata aberration being particularly striking, where the rings are elongated to form teardrops. Other aberrations occur where the rings are greatly reduced or completely absent. Huggins (1959) also describes a form in Kerry, Ireland, that is of normal size until 600 feet, when it starts to be replaced by a dwarf form that, at 1,000 feet, takes over completely.

This butterfly can be found throughout most of the British Isles, south of a line between the South Ebudes in the west and Banffshire in the east. It is also absent from the western parts of northern England, north-west of the Midlands, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. This butterfly forms discrete colonies where numbers vary from a few dozen to several thousand.

Aphantopus hyperantus

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Europe).

Ringlet - Five Rivers - 14-06-2014

Male
Photo © Wurzel

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10

Male Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

Ringlet Female - Southwater Wood, Sussex 8-July-10

Female
Photo © Vince Massimo

Ringlet (female). High and Over, Seaford. 23/7/2013.

Female Underside
Photo © badgerbob

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1699Brown Eyed Butterfly with Yellow CirclesPetiver (1695-1703)
1717Brown and EyesPetiver (1717)
1717Brown Seven EyesPetiver (1717)
1766RingletHarris (1766)
1769Brown-Eyed ButterflyBerkenhout (1769)
1795Brown ArgusLewin (1795)
1853Wood RingletMorris (1853)
1959Common RingletHeslop (1959)

Conservation Status

This is one of the few species that is doing well, with evidence of increases in both distribution and population. It is not, therefore, a priority species for conservation efforts.

UK BAP StatusOccurrence Change
1976-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
1976-2014 (%)
Occurrence Change
2005-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
2005-2014 (%)
Not Listed
Large Increase+63
Large Increase+381
Increase+21
Large Increase+72

The table above shows the occurrence (distribution) and abundance (population) trends, using information from The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015 (Fox, 2015). Any UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).

Habitat

A variety of habitats is used, although sites characterised as being sheltered and damp are preferred, such as woodland clearings, woodland edges and rides, meadows, hedgerows, road verges and country lanes, where the full heat from the summer sun can be avoided and where the foodplant is lush. The butterfly is not typically found in open areas, such as grassland or heathland.

Distribution

 

Click here to see the distribution of this species or here to see the distribution of this species together with specific site information overlaid.

Life Cycle

There is one generation each year, with adults emerging in the second half of June, peaking in mid-July, with a few individuals continuing into August. The flight period is relatively-short when compared with its close relatives.

The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.

Imago

Male and female are almost identical in appearance, although it is just possible to make out the feintest of sex brands on the forewings of the male, which contains special scent scales used in courtship. Males adopt an exclusive strategy of patrolling for mates and are often seen in ones and twos fluttering among the grasses that typify their habitat.

A mated female lays her eggs in a somewhat-chaotic fashion, typically perched on a grass stem and ejecting a single egg at random, often into the air, causing it to land in the vegetation. Both sexes take nectar from a variety of sources, Bramble and Thistle being particular favourites.

Adults feed primarily on Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) and Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.).

Aphantopus hyperantus

Ringlet - imago - Nr Finemere Wood - 27-Jun-05 (2)

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005

Ringlet - Castle Hills Solihull 22.06.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
22-Jun-2014

Ringlet, Rewell Wood, 10 June 2009

Photo © Neil Hulme
10-Jun-2009

Ringlet - Botany Bay, Sussex 28-June-2014

Photo © Neil Hulme
28-Jun-2014

Ringlet - Five Rivers - 14-06-2014

Photo © Wurzel

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010

Ringlet - imago - Pamber Forest - 03-Jul-10 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
03-Jul-2010

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 23-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Jun-2010

Ringlet - imago - Pamber Forest - 25-Jun-04 (2)

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jun-2004

Ringlet Female - Southwater Wood, Sussex 8-July-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jul-2010

Ringlet, male, Abbots Wood, 01/07/2013

Photo © Pauline
01-Jul-2013

Ringlet - Larkhill - 28-06-2016

Photo © Wurzel

Ringlets - Bentley Wood - 1-7-09

Photo © Gwenhwyfar
01-Jul-2009

Ringlet - imago - Nr Finemere Wood - 27-Jun-05 (3)

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005

Ringlet - imago - Bentley Wood - 03-Jul-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
03-Jul-2009

Ringlet and Meadow Brown mating - Peak District 2-July-2014

Photo © angieseymour1722
02-Jul-2014

Ringlet (female). High and Over, Seaford. 23/7/2013.

Photo © badgerbob
23-Jul-2013

Ringlet - imago - Leckhampton Hill - 19-Jun-11 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles

Ringlet male,Sylvia's Meadow, Cornwall. 4 July 2012.

Photo © essexbuzzard
04-Jul-2012

Ringlet, Amberley, 15 June 2008

Photo © Neil Hulme
15-Jun-2008

Photo Album (37 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are a pale yellow when first laid, but soon turn a pale brown. The stage lasts between 2 and 3 weeks.

Ringlet - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Ringlet - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

1-Ringlet ovum 2

Photo © Tony Moore
Photo stack of ovum obtained from caged female - only took a couple of hours for her to produce the goods - she is now safely back in her field.
14-Jul-2015

Ringlet - ovum - Thatcham - 05-Jul-11 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles

Ringlet - ovum - Thatcham - 15-Jul-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Jul-2016

Photo Album (5 photos) ...


Larva

The larva is nocturnal and hides by day at the base of a grass tussock, emerging at night to feed on the tenderest parts of the foodplant. The larva hibernates while in the 3rd instar, but will feed on particularly warm evenings during the winter. Regular feeding resumes in the spring when the larvae can be found by torchlight feeding on grass stems, although they will fall to the ground with the slightest disturbance. There are 4 moults in total.

The primary larval foodplants are Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Common Couch (Elytrigia repens), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Meadow-grasses (various) (Poa spp.) and Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa).

Ringlet - larva - Thatcham - 17-Apr-05 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Apr-2005

Ringlet - larva - Thatcham - 17-May-05 (4) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-May-2005

Ringlet - larva - Thatcham - 17-May-05 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-May-2005

Ringlet - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Ringlet, 08/05/2015, Noar Hill

Photo © Pauline
08-May-2015

Ringlet, 08/05/2015, Noar Hill

Photo © Pauline
08-May-2015

Ringlet larva, Chiddingfold, 09/05/2016

Photo © Pauline
09-May-2016

Ringlet larva, Chiddingfold, 09/05/2016

Photo © Pauline
09-May-2016

Ringlet larva beginning to pupate, reared, 15/06/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
15-Jun-2016

Photo Album (9 photos) ...


1st Instar

Description to be completed.

2nd Instar

Description to be completed.

3rd Instar

Description to be completed.

4th Instar

Description to be completed.

5th Instar

Description to be completed.

Pupa

The pupa is formed in a flimsy cocoon, comprising just a few strands of silk, at the base of a grass tussock. This stage lasts around 2 weeks.

Ringlet - pupa - Thatcham - 06-Jun-05 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jun-2005

Ringlet pupa, reared, 19/06/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
19-Jun-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 25/06/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
25-Jun-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 02/07/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
02-Jul-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 08/07/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
08-Jul-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 10/07/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
10-Jul-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 11/07/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
11-Jul-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 11/07/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
11-Jul-2016

Ringlet pupa, reared, 12/07/2016, Liphook

Photo © Pauline
12-Jul-2016

Photo Album (9 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

No similar species found.

Videos


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The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Berkenhout (1769) Berkenhout, J. (1769) Outlines of the Natural History of Great Britain and Ireland (Vol.1 Animal Kingdom).
Boisduval (1833) Boisduval, J.A. (1833) Icones historiques des Lépidoptères d'Europe nouveaux.
Grote (1897) Grote, A.R. (1897) Die Schmetterlingsfauna von Hildesheim. - Mitt. Roemer-Museum, Hildesh.
Harris (1766) Harris, M. (1766) The Aurelian. Edition 1.
Heslop (1959) Hislop, I.R.P. (1959) A new label list of British macrolepidoptera. Entomologist's Gazette.
Huggins (1959) Huggins, H.C. (1959) A Naturalist in the Kingdom of Kerry. Proceedings of the South London Entomological and Natural History Society.
Lewin (1795) Lewin, W. (1795) The Papilios of Great Britain.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Morris (1853) Morris, Rev.F.O. (1853) A History of British Butterflies.
Petiver (1695-1703) Petiver, J. (1695-1703) Musei Petiveriani centuria prima-decima, rariora naturae continens.
Petiver (1717) Petiver, J. (1717) Papilionum Britanniae Icones.
Rafinesque (1815) Rafinesque, C.S. (1815) Analyse de la nature ou Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés.
Wallengren (1853) Wallengren, H.D.J. (1853) Skandinaviens Dagfjärilar. lepidoptera Scandinaviæ Rhopalocera, disposita et descripta.