Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the July 25, 2010 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

In standard English a satyr is thought of as a man with strong sexual desires. In mythology the term is used variously, but typically it refers to horny, carousing men. The satyr I'm talking about sunned innocently on a leaf along a woodland trail. That's him below:


A view of the open wings from above is shown below:


That's a Plain Satyr, CISSIA POMPILIA, distributed from Texas's southernmost tip through Mexico and Central America into northern South America. You can see that he appears to have only four legs, instead of the usual six, and this cues you to the fact that he's a member of the big Brushfoot Family, the Nymphalidae. In that family the front pair of legs is modified so that they look like small arms closely held against the butterfly's chest.

Satyrs are members of the Satyr Subfamily, the Satyrinae, of which about 87 species are listed for Mexico. If you run into a smallish, brownish butterfly with one or more marginal eyespots, it's a good bet it's a satyr. You can see that this butterfly's coiled proboscis is a modest thing, much less conspicuous than, say, a Monarch's. Satyrs only rarely visit flowers so they don't need long proboscises. They feed on rotting fruit, animal droppings, flowing sap and the like, where a short proboscis is as good as a long one. Their caterpillars feed on grasses and grasslike plants from within shelters of several leaves connected with silk.

On the Internet there's not much information on this species, but it's typical among the satyrs for the adults to perch with their wings closed, as in the picture, but open them when basking in early morning or during cloudy weather. Most species have local colonies and are not migratory. Males patrol for females with a characteristic slow, skipping flight.