Contents > Butterflies > Resident > Ringlets > Butler's Ringlet
Erebiola butleri (was Erebia butleri)
Distribution & Status
Rare Alpine grasslands from Nelson to Otago, including Fiordland, Paparoa ranges and mountains east of Lake Hawea. Can become very common in local areas.
Scientific Classification More info Family
Butler's Black Mountain Ringlet and Small Black Mountain RingletDescription
A native species of Butterfly that still needs a great deal of study and whose life history is not well known. (See bottom of page for unanswered questions). I have also come across articles that says it's distribution is smaller in range then the map to the left, so possibly this is the potential range more then the commonly seen range of the main divide only. The old scientific name of Erebia butleri was changed as it has different structural characteristics from the European Erebia as defined by Wise in 1967. The name Erebiola originates from Erebia through.Ovum In English
Ovipositing has only being observed in a field enclosure, in which ovum where laid singularly on nearby shrub (Trailing neinei Dracophyllum pronum) stems. The ovum is ivory in colour and has 28-32 vertical ribs. As the larva is almost developed, the spots and setae appear through the shell. Unlike other many other Satyrinae Butterflies, the head of the larva is a similar colour to the body, so doesn't show through the shell. They hatch in about 14 days. Most of the shell is eaten by the newly hatched larva for it's first meal.Larvae In English
Yellow-brown with dark and light stripes. It has a smooth and tapered body with short, blunt setae which are the same colour as the body. The number of instars is unknown, suspect 5. It is suspected that they are night feeders, but this might be due to them being intermittent feeders. Their movement is slow. The larvae grow up to 20mm when fully grown.Pupa In English
Grey to cream colour with fine black spots on the abdomen and a mottled brown on the rest of the body. It is stout with an angular head which is flattened across the top. There is a ridge formed at the base of the wings behind the eyes. The abdomen tapers quickly and is arched dorsally, but is flat ventrally. The pupa measures 11mm long. The style of pupation is not known, in the field enclosure, only 2 larvae where observed pupating, one formed a loose cocoon on ground amongst grass roots and the other hang by a cremaster from a blade of Tussock. Pupation lasts about 21 days.Imago In English
The imago has a 35-43mm wingspan, male average is 40mm and female average is 37mm. The males have gentle flight with occasional periods of gliding. The female has a feeble flight and often stops on Carpet Grass (Chionochloa australis) and flowers. The female rests with it's wings open, which are remarkably camouflaged, so it is difficult to spot. Both genders fly low to ground and can achieve fast flight to escape perceived dangers. Normally flies on sunny days only and will settle as soon as a cloud comes over. However males have being recorded on overcast days. The male will fly a long time and hence distance, but the female only flies short distances. Males appear more common, but is probably due to them spending more time on the wing. Since they are a difficult Butterfly to get close to, look out for a dark Butterfly that is flying over vegetation as opposed to scree and boulders, which is more likely to be a Black Mountain Ringlet. Their flight is similar to the 3 Tussock Ringlets, however the Butler's Ringlet appears darker. There are 2 ocelli on the forewings and 3 black spots on the hindwings. The female is paler with dull yellow around the ocelli and smaller then the male. The male has reddish-brown around the ocelli, however the reddish-brown reduces towards the northern range. Underside is brown with predominate silver markings on both genders.Habitat
Damp (almost boggy) terraces of alpine scrub and Snow tussock from 900-1300m.Food Plants
This is not known at present, however final instar larvae have being spotted feeding on Snow Tussock (Chionochloa spp) until pupation, but first instar larvae refuse to eat this plant. First instar larvae have being tested on Blue Tussock Grass (Poa colensoi) and also refused to eat that as well. But they did eat various lawn grasses. I suspect that since the females like to stop frequently on Carpet Grass (Chionochloa australis) they maybe ovipositing or checking for suitable nearby ovipositing locations. However, this is just a theory as I have no proof of this.Lifecycle
Note: there is no published information for lifecycle of this species. I would guess eggs are present in March, but who knows beyond that.
Butler's Ringlet is a species of Butterfly that still needs a great deal of study.
Some of the remaining questions are;
- Where is the ovum oviposited?
- How many instars the larvae have?
- What are the foodplants (especially in the early instars)?
- What is the common way they pupate?
- Do they have a 1 or a 2 year lifecycle (suspected 2 years)?
- Their distribution?
- Their lifcycle?
- How stable is the population?
Please contact nzButterfly.info if you can answer any of the above questions.