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Butterfly taxonomy (classification) The skippers The swallowtails The whites The hairstreaks, coppers and blues. Includes the Duke of Burgundy. The nymphalids, fritillaries and browns. Includes the Monarch.
Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10
Wingspan
Male: 42 - 48mm
Female: 46 - 52mm
Photo © Vince Massimo
Ringlet

Aphantopus hyperantus
a-fan-TOH-puss
hy-per-AN-tuss
Number: 59.009
B&F No.: 1629
Family:Nymphalidae (Swainson, 1827)
Subfamily:Satyrinae (Boisduval, 1833)
Tribe:Maniolini (Grote, 1897)
Genus:Aphantopus (Wallengren, 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

  Phenology  

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.


  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.

  Larval Foodplants  

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).

  Nectar Sources  

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.).

  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.


Ringlet - imago - Bentley Wood - 21-Jun-07 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
21-Jun-2007
Ringlet - imago - Nr Finemere Wood - 27-Jun-05 (2)
Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005
Ringlet - imago - Nr Finemere Wood - 27-Jun-05 (3)
Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005
Ringlet - imago - Nr Finemere Wood - 27-Jun-05
Photo © Pete Eeles
26-Jun-2005
Ringlet - imago - Pamber Forest - 25-Jun-04 (2)
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jun-2004
Ringlet, Rewell Wood, 10 June 2009
Photo © Neil Hulme
10-Jun-2009
Ringlets - Bentley Wood - 1-7-09
Photo © Gwenhwyfar
01-Jul-2009
Mating Ringlet & Meadow Brown Smardale Gill 13.7.09 by Sandra Standbridge
Photo © sandraandkevin
Mating with Meadow Brown
Ringlet - Pamber Forest - 3 July 2010
Photo © Clive
03-Jul-2010
Ringlet Female - Southwater Wood, Sussex 8-July-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jul-2010
Ringlet Female - Southwater Wood, Sussex 8-July-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Jul-2010
Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010
Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010
Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010
Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2010
Ringlet Male - Woldingham, Surrey 23-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Jun-2010
Ringlets about to mate - Cirencester Park, Gloucestershire 29/6/2011
Photo © jamesweightman
29-Jun-2011
Ringlet Ring
Photo © jamesweightman
Close up of scales forming a ring on underside
07-Jul-2011
Ringlet - imago - Leckhampton Hill - 19-Jun-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Ringlet reduced spot.Sylvia's Meadow, Cornwall 4 July 2012.
Photo © essexbuzzard
04-Jul-2012
Ringlet male,Sylvia's Meadow, Cornwall. 4 July 2012.
Photo © essexbuzzard
04-Jul-2012
Ringlet, male, Abbots Wood, 01/07/2013
Photo © Pauline
01-Jul-2013
Ringlet (female). High and Over, Seaford. 23/7/2013.
Photo © badgerbob
23-Jul-2013
2nd July 2010 Botley Wood
Photo © andy brown
Ringlets - Bentley Wood 25th June 2011
Photo © andy brown
25-Jun-2011
Ringlet - Five Rivers - 14-06-2014
Photo © Wurzel
Ringlets, mating pair, the Straits, 06/07/2014
Photo © Pauline
06-Jul-2014
Ringlet - Botany Bay, Sussex 28-June-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
28-Jun-2014

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

Click here to see a full list of aberrations for this species.

Unclassified Aberrations


Ringlet - Mating Pair
Photo © Dave McCormick
Ringlet - Mating Pair - 12/07/2008, Hogstown Bog, Co Down, Northern Ireland
12-Jul-2008
Ringlet - aberration - Bentley Wood - 03-Jul-09 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
03-Jul-2009
Ringlet female (ab. pseudoocellatus) - Crawley, Sussex 2-July-2014
Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jul-2014
Ringlet ab. chrysophalarus?, East Lothian, 10-July-2013
Photo © NickMorgan
10-Jul-2013
Ringlet ab. chrysophalarus?, East Lothian, 10-July-2013
Photo © NickMorgan
10-Jul-2013
Ringlet ab. pallens - Whitbarrow, Cumbria 11/7/2013.
Photo © LauraS56
08-Jul-2013
Ringlet ab. pallens - Whitbarrow, Cumbria 18/7/2013.
Photo © LauraS56
15-Jul-2013
Ringlet ab. pallens - Whitbarrow, Cumbria 18/7/2013.
Photo © LauraS56
15-Jul-2013
Ringlet (ab. supernumeraria) -Magdalen Hill 1st July 2011
Photo © andy brown
28th June 2009 Magdalen Hill
Photo © andy brown
28-Jun-2009
Ringlet - female ab. centrifera - Stockbridge Down - 07-Jul-14-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
07-Jul-2014
Ringlet (ab. supernumeraria) - Weymouth, Dorset 24-June-2014
Photo © jd9pen
IMG 1200-1 Ringlet male ab. Chiddingfold Wood, Surrey, 4.8.2014
Photo © hideandseek
04-Aug-2014

ab. arete (Muller.Faun.Fridrichs.1764.no.330.p.36.)

Underside of the forewings with two small white points, the hindwings with five. These points are very much smaller than those of ab.centrifera Seitz and have no encircling ring. Tutt(Butts.1896.p.412) gives a wrong description of Muller's arete saying "the underside showing white points with yellow rings". This is the form named centrifera by Seitz and should be ignored.


Ringlet - aberration - Thatcham - 26-Jun-05 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jun-2005
Ringlet pair (ab.) - Selkirk, Scottish Borders 2-July-2011
Photo © NickMorgan
Ringlet - aberration - Bannerdown - 11-Jul-05 [Simon Crampin]
Photo © Simon Crampin
Ringlet - aberration - Grovely Wood - 24-Jul-06 [Graham Smith]
Photo © Graham Smith
Ringlet - aberration - Lansdown -  15-Jul-05 [Graham Smith]
Photo © Graham Smith
Ringlet - aberration - lansdown, nr Bath - 17-Jul-06 [Graham Smith]
Photo © Graham Smith
ab. arete
Photo © Neil Hulme
06-Jul-2010
ab. arete, Gifford, East Lothian, 3-July-2013
Photo © NickMorgan
03-Jul-2013
ab. arete, Gullane, East Lothian, 3-July-2013
Photo © NickMorgan
03-Jul-2013
2nd July 2010 Botley Wood
Photo © andy brown
Ringlet (ab.Arete) Bookham Common 20/6/14.
Photo © mvpike

ab. cuneata (Gillmer.Int.Ent.Z.1908.1.p.359.)

= elongata Tutt.Ent.Rec.1910.22.p.77.

The spots of the underside slightly cuneiform in shape. Tutt's elongata has the spots a little elongated or pear-shaped. This form has not the prominent golden-buff rings of lanceolata Shipp, the ocelli are normal except in their slightly elongated shape, not nearly so drawn out as in lanceolata.


Ringlet - aberration - Lansdown Nr. Bath - 29-Jun-06 [Graham Smith]
Photo © Graham Smith

ab. lanceolata (Shipp.Ent.Rec.1894.5.p.99.(fig.Entom.26.p.281.))

The spots of the underside unusually large and pear-shaped.


Ringlet (female) ab. lanceolata (4 July 2012) REARED
Photo © Mark Colvin
04-Jul-2012
Ringlet (female) ab. lanceolata (4 July 2012) REARED
Photo © Mark Colvin
04-Jul-2012
Ringlet (female) ab. lanceolata (4 July 2012) REARED
Photo © Mark Colvin
04-Jul-2012
Ringlet (ab.Lanceolata) Bookham Common 20/6/14.
Photo © mvpike

  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
Ringlet - ovum - Thatcham - 05-Jul-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles

  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.


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

  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

  Similar Species  

No similar species found.

  Videos  

Video © John Chapple
Ringlet.

  Sites  

Click here to see the distribution of this species overlaid with specific site information. Alternatively, select one of the sites listed below.

Sites
Arthur's Seat, Attenborough Nature Reserve, Aylesbeare Common, Backside Common, Banstead Downs, Bentley Wood, Bovey Valley Woodlands, Broughton Down, Bryncelyn Hall, Coombe Heath, Cross Hill Quarry, Decoy Heath, Eakring Meadows Nature Reserve, Epping Forest, Fleam Dyke, Gait Barrows, Glenarm, Hainualt Forest CP, Hockley Woods, Horsenden Hill, Howardian Local Nature Reserve, Hyde, Kenfig Pool, Kinghorn Loch Path, Latton Woods, Laughton Common Wood, Lavernock, Lower Woods, Mansmead wood, Meanwood Park, Millenium Arboretum, Moors Valley Country Park, Moss Field, Murton Lane, Old Castle Down, Old Down, Basingstoke, Prees Heath, Pulborough Brooks (RSPB), Rookery, Sutton Bingham Reservoir, Uffmoor Wood, Viking Field/LesleySears, Winsdon Hill

  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 StatusDistribution TrendPopulation Trend
Not ListedStableIncrease

From The State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).


  Links  

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

  References  

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Huggins (1959) Huggins, H.C.: A Naturalist in the Kingdom of Kerry. Proceedings of the South London Entomological and Natural History Society. 1959.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C.: Systema Naturae. Edn.10. 1758.

  Copyright © Peter Eeles 2002-2014
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