|scientific name Coenonympha tullia |
common name Common Ringlet
Any grassy, open habitats, although absent from much of the boreal forest.
One flight peaking in June, and at least a partial second brood southward from Aug - Oct.
Our smallest satyrine. The unmarked clay-ochre upperside is unique; the underside is tan-grey (ochre forewing base), with a whitish, irregular median line, and often an apical forewing spot, occasionally with remnants of one or two (rarely more) hindwing marginal spots. The ground colour and development of the eyespots is variable. Females are paler overall, and ocasionally have a dark apical forewing spot on the upperside.
Many names have been applied to the western North American ringlets over the years (eg. C. california, inornata and ochracea), a reflection of the fact that it is unclear just how many species are found here, and whether or not any are the same species as the European tullia. There is currently no convincing evidence for any particular interpretation.
Based on differences in ecology and appearance, there appear to be at least two distinct entities in Alberta, one inhabiting far northern boreal fens and grasslands of the Peace-Athabasca delta region (ssp. mackenziei), and the widespread ssp. benjamini.
Although this species is often abundant and can be encountered in most grassy habitats in Alberta, little life history information is available. Hardy's (1960) account of Vancouver Island populations (subspecies insulana, of special conservation concern in BC) is apparently the only one for western Canada: the pale, brown-flecked eggs are barrel shaped, and mature larvae are green with a blue-grey sheen. Larvae have several dorsal and subdorsal dark green lines and a yellow lateral line. The pupa is compact, green and lined with brown, and hangs suspended from grasses.
Ringlet populations in southern Canada are able to complete two generations per year; on southern Vancouver Island, eggs laid by the spring brood either develop to emerge as adults in the summer, or overwinter as mature larvae (Hardy 1960). The can also hibernate as young larvae, offpsring of the second brood. A similar life cycle has been documented in southern Ontario. Only third instar larvae overwinter in northern Ontario, resulting in a single yearly brood (Eberlie 1990).
The distribution and taxonomic status of the taxon mackenziei requires further research before a conservation status assessment can be made; it is currently known only from the Fort Smith region northward along the Mackenzie River to Great Slave Lake.
Subspecies benjamini is not of concern. The status of mackenziei is not known.
The larval hosts are unconfirmed. Although "grasses" are commonly cited, it is not clear which and how many species are actually suitable. Subspecies mackenziei is associated with sedge fens, so sedges rather than grasses are more likely hosts.
As defined here, tullia ranges throughout much of the northern hemisphere, from Scandinavia to AK, south to CA and NM, east to Nfld. (Scott 1986).
Comments are published according to our submission guidelines. The EH Strickland Entomological Museum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed.