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 Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010

Ringlet - Larkhill - 28-06-2016

Photo © Wurzel

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

Photo © Pauline
01-Jul-2013

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

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005

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

Photo © Pete Eeles
03-Jul-2010

Ringlets, mating pair, the Straits, 06/07/2014

Photo © Pauline
06-Jul-2014

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010

Ringlet - Pamber Forest - 3 July 2010

Photo © Clive
03-Jul-2010

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 23-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Jun-2010

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

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005

Mating Ringlet & Meadow Brown Smardale Gill 13.7.09 by Sandra Standbridge

Photo © sandraandkevin
Mating with Meadow Brown

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

Photo © essexbuzzard
04-Jul-2012

Ringlets - Bentley Wood - 1-7-09

Photo © Gwenhwyfar
01-Jul-2009

Ringlet - imago - Pamber Forest - 28-Jun-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-Jun-2009

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

Ringlets about to mate - Cirencester Park, Gloucestershire 29/6/2011

Photo © jamesweightman
29-Jun-2011

Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010

Ringlet - Botany Bay, Sussex 28-June-2014

Photo © Neil Hulme
28-Jun-2014

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

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jun-2004

Photo Album (39 photos) ...


Ovum

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

"In depositing, this butterfly, like M. galatea, does not attach its eggs to anything. The female settles on the grass blades and drops her eggs at random, so that they fall to the ground at the base of the grass stems. Ova laid July 14th, 1890, hatched August 1st, remaining eighteen days in the egg state. Ova laid July 24th, 1891, hatched August 13th, remaining twenty days in the egg state. A female, captured July 14th, 1901, deposited fifty-eight eggs on the 16th; these commenced hatching August 1st, being in the egg state sixteen days. The egg is 0.80 mm. wide at the base, and a little less in height; it is dome-shaped with a deeply concave base; the surface is glassy with a delicately reticulated pattern resembling honeycomb running in rows from the base to the crown, where it forms a regular network pattern, but extremely fine in texture. When first laid the colour is a pale primrose-yellow, which gradually deepens, and when a week old assumes a pale lilac-buff Just before hatching it becomes darker, and finally the larva shows clearly through the shell." - Frohawk (1924)

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 5 instars 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, 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

Photo Album (4 photos) ...


1st Instar

"Directly after emergence the larva measures 1.8 mm. long. The head is large, being wider than the first segment; it has a granular surface and is of an ochreous colour, with large dark eye spots and rust-brown mouth parts. It bears a number of rather long, fine, serrated ochreous-coloured hairs. The body is of uniform thickness; it is transversely wrinkled over the dorsal surface down to the spiracles; on each segment above the spiracle are three large white tubercles, two are sub-dorsal and one is super-spiracular; the first and largest of the two carries a long, serrated white hair curving backwards; the remaining two have similar but much smaller hairs, the lowest curving forwards. Directly below the spiracle is a large bulbous swelling occupying the whole width of the segment, and in its centre are two large tubercles bearing hairs similar to the others but curving downwards. All the hairs are serrated. On the claspers are two tubercles, but these carry simple spinous hairs, also directed downwards. The ground colour is a pale cream. There are three longitudinal amber-coloured stripes. These are medio-dorsal and sub-dorsal, both very narrow, and a broad spiracular band; also below the lateral swelling is a narrow but rather indistinct line of the same colour. The legs and claspers are pale ochreous. The anal points form small tubercles, terminating with two hairs. When six days old it is 3.5 mm. long. The ground colour is green, chiefly over the dorsal surface; the amber-coloured stripes have deepened to an olive-brown, and a lateral greenish-white stripe is bordered by a fine brown line; the ventral surface is pale greenish-white." - Frohawk (1924)

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

Photo © Reg Fry

Ringlet - larva (1st instar) - Thatcham - 17-Aug-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2016

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


2nd Instar

"The first moult occurred at the end of August, 1891, the first stage lasting a fortnight. Before second moult, thirty days old, it measures 6.35 mm. long. The ground colour is cream, with medio-dorsal, sub-dorsal, super-spiracular, spiracular and lateral brown lines; the first and last are the darkest and widest; the spiracles are prominent and have dark apertures. The whole body is rather densely studded with hairs of different lengths, which are serrated above the spiracles and simple below. They vary from pale cream to light ochreous-brown. The head is cream, mottled with sienna-brown and sprinkled with hairs similar to those on the body. The legs and claspers are ochreous." - Frohawk (1924)

Ringlet - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 09-Sep-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Sep-2016

Ringlet - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 17-Aug-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2016

Ringlet - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 17-Sep-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Sep-2016

Ringlet - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 25-Aug-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Aug-2016

Ringlet - larva (2nd instar) - Thatcham - 30-Aug-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
30-Aug-2016

Photo Album (5 photos) ...


3rd Instar

"The second moult took place during the first fortnight of October. After this moult the larva enters into hibernation, but it feeds at times during mild weather throughout the winter months. Before the third moult, 178 days old, it measures while resting 8 mm. in length; both in colour and structure it resembles the previous stage." - Frohawk (1924)

Ringlet - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 29-Sep-16 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Sep-2016

Ringlet - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 10-Jan-17 [REARED]-5

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Jan-2017

Ringlet - larva (3rd instar) - Thatcham - 10-Jan-17 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-Jan-2017

Photo Album (3 photos) ...


4th Instar

"The third moult occurs after hibernation, about March 20th. After the third moult, 268 days old (May 8th, 1892), it measures 14 mm. long. It is stout in proportion, but tapering at both ends, and with a dilated lateral ridge; the ventral surface is flattened. The ground colour is pale flesh, palest on the dorsal surface and inclining to yellowish laterally. The medio-dorsal line is chocolate-brown, faint on the first two segments, and gradually strengthening in intensity and breadth to the eighth segment; it then runs to the base of the anal points; an indistinct pale yellow sub-dorsal line runs the entire length, and a whitish lateral line bordered above by dull carmine or vinous-red; a chocolate-brown band passes along the base of the claspers, which is composed of oval blotches, beginning faintly on the first segment, increasing in size and depth of colour corresponding to the dorsal line. The entire surface is finely speckled and reticulated with vinous-red. The head is buff, with three darker bands down each lobe consisting of minute blackish warts, each bearing a fine bristle; mouth parts and eye spots dark brown; the legs, claspers and anal points pale buff. The entire surface of the larva is covered with bristles, each having a pale base and blackish apex." - Frohawk (1924)

5th Instar

"The fourth and last moult occurred during the middle of June, 1901; some, however, pass through the last moult very much in advance of others. When fully grown the larva measures 21.2 mm. long. The head is ochreous and strongly granulated, having a very scabious appearance, each point emitting a hair. The ground colour of the body is ochreous, checkered with short longitudinal rose-coloured streaks. The medio-dorsal line is very indistinct on the first three segments, dull ochreous, and gradually deepening in colour to the last segment, and at each segmental division is a brown mark, each increasing in size and depth to the last segment. The lateral stripe is pinkish-white, bordered on each side by a lilac-rose line. The ventral surface is similar in colour to the rest of the body, and mottled with rather dark purplish blotches above the claspers; these and the legs are pale brown. The whole surface is densely sprinkled with hairs of various lengths; all the larger ones are serrated and of a horn-brown colour, with amber tips and white bases supported on white frustra; the smallest hairs (some extremely minute) are wholly white; the spiracles are black, prominent and shining. It rests in a straight position on the grass stems during the day, feeding only at night, and falls from its food on the slightest disturbance, and forms a complete ring with its head touching the anal claspers, and remains in that position for about a minute or more; it then suddenly straightens itself out to its former resting attitude. When about to pupate the larva very loosely spins a few silken threads among the roots of the grass, forming a very slight cocoon, wherein to pupate, without attaching itself in any way." - Frohawk (1924)

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

Photo © Pauline
15-Jun-2016

Photo Album (4 photos) ...


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.

"The average length of the male pupa is 11 mm. and the female 12.7 mm. It is stout in proportion, with a short, contracted abdomen; the head is blunt without angulations; the thorax rounded and swollen, with a slight dorsal keel; base of wing rather angulated and ridged along the sub-median nervure, wings and abdomen swollen and rounded at the middle; the abdomen short, rounded, conical and abruptly attenuated, terminating in a curved cremastral point, concave ventrally and lobed laterally, without any hooks, but furnished on the dorsal extremity and extreme apex with small, straight spines. The ground colour is pale ochreous, slightly tinged with pink on the thorax and abdomen; the entire surface is finely reticulated with amber-brown; the wings are more or less longitudinally streaked with brown. In the most heavily marked examples a dark brown elongated mark fills the discoidal cell, a long narrow streak between the median and sub-median nervures, and a short streak at the base of wing; also a brown elbowed streak surrounding the base and continued along and bordering the white sub-median ridge; two blackish bands pass over the eye, bordering the central glazed band, and immediately above the eye is a dark brown spot. The thorax and abdomen (especially the latter) are speckled with dark brown dots, mostly running in longitudinal rows; the spiracles are paler brown. The whole surface, excepting the wings, is studded with minute sharply-pointed spines, and it is also granulated. After the tenth day it gradually assumes a darker hue, and finally turns dull black shortly before emergence. The pupal stage lasts about fourteen days." - Frohawk (1924)

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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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.
Frohawk (1924) Frohawk, F.W. (1924) The Natural History of British Butterflies.
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.