Lepidoptera The Grayling Butterfly – Satyrus Semele
The Grayling is the largest of our ‘Browns,’ and, although a powerful flier, it seldom takes long flights. The female, which is shown in fig. 7, Plate V, is really a beautiful creature, the light markings of which stand out in bold contrast with the deep brown ground colour; but the male is comparatively dingy, there being much less contrast between the ground and the markings. He is also smaller than his mate.
The under side of both sexes is similar (fig. 79), the pattern of the fore wings being much like that of the other side, but considerably lighter, and the hind wings are beautifully marbled with various greys and browns.
This species is not nearly so common as the two preceding, but it is very widely distributed, and is exceedingly abundant in some parts. On some of the heathery cliffs and downs of the south and south-west coasts it is so plentiful that the butterflies are started into the air at almost every step, for it seldom flies except when disturbed. It is a common insect in Ireland, and also in parts of Scotland.
The caterpillar is a hybernator, and may be found feeding on grasses in the autumn and the spring. It changes to the chrysalis in June, and the perfect insect is on the wing from June to the beginning of September.
The colour of the caterpillar is pinkish drab above, and greenish drab beneath. A dark brown stripe, edged with a lighter colour, passes down the middle of the back, and a dark line on each side. It changes to a dark reddish-brown chrysalis on the surface of the ground, or, according to some observers, a little beneath the surface.