Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
First (officially) recognized as distinct from H. sosybius and described in 2014.
Explanation of Names
Hermeuptychia intricata Grishin 2014. Type locality: Hale Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Fort Bend County, Texas.
"The name refers to the difficulty in recognizing this very distinct species and its intricate ventral wing patterns. The name is an adjective." (1)
It should be stated that all identifications of "Intricate Satyr" on BugGuide, without a photograph of the dorsal surface of the forewing in a male or examination of the genitalia, should be considered as somewhat tentative. The genitalia, particularly the pointed shape of the male uncus (as apposed to truncated in sympatric species) are distinctive, but can not be seen in nature photographs. The dorsal surface of the forewing in males is more readily photographed but sometimes difficult to observe. The morphology of the sinuous lines on the ventral surface of the hindwing is diagnostic in typical individuals of both species but there is significant variation in the feature and a minority of individuals cannot be identified to species by this feature alone.(2)
(Click the thumbnail below for comments and an illustration on sexing members of the genus and differentiating males of the complex by the dorsal forewing.)
In H. intricata
, the postmedian line (PML) on the ventral surface of the hindwing is rather straight between the costa and M3 and distinctly bulges somewhat sharply distad around vein M3 (between the third and fourth eyespot from the costa). In H. sosybius
this bulge is either absent or around M2 (third eyespot or higher) and there is typically a large basad bulge around M1 rather than a straight line.(3)
Many individuals that display the typical PML shape can be tentatively identified from this feature alone. However, a minority of individuals are unidentifiable by the PML alone. (Click the thumbnail below for comments and an illustration on identifying individuals in the species complex by PML morphology.)
Additionally on the ventral hindwing, the area near the tornus where the postmedian and submarginal lines join forms a gap below the posterior most eyespot dubbed the Sinuous Band Gap (SBG). The SBG is typically wide and long in H. intricata
but can be substantially reduced in some H. sosybius
. However, this feature is highly variable in H. sosybius
and there is considerable overlap between the species. Despite this, some individuals of H. sosybius
exhibit extreme reduction or other variations not normally seen in H. intricata
and this can aid in identification of females.(2)
(Click the left thumbnail below for comments and an illustration on identifying individuals in the species complex by SBG morphology.) (An example of a Carolina Satyr with acute SBG reduction that is otherwise unidentifiable because of aberrant PML morphology can be seen in the right thumbnail below.)
These characters may not be 100% reliable when taken individually, but they appear to work well in combination, at least based on specimens so far documented by dorsal forewings and examination of genitalia. However, the full range of pattern variation seen in H. intricata
may not be entirely known yet, so identification by pattern alone must remain a bit tentative until the species is better understood throughout its range. Geographic variations in morphology have already been observed between FL, TX, and SC populations.(2)
So caution must be taken to get male dorsal forewing photos when attempting to identify H. intricata
at new sites.
Southeast US: east TX to central FL to coastal NC, predominantly below the fall-line on the Atlantic coast - Map (1)
According to Austin 2018, Intricate Satyrs are most commonly found in hardwood ephemeral wetlands where the soil is perpetually moist and grassy vegetation is dense but there is not permanent standing water for any extended period of time throughout the year. This includes habitats such as floodplains, bottomlands, and isolated wooded low areas, particularly those with dense grassy understories. Both Intricate Satyrs and Carolina Satyrs will fly together when their habitats adjoin but Intricate Satyrs tend to be present in higher concentrations than their congener when both are present in a wetland habitat. Carolina Satyrs are far more generalist in their habitat selections than Intricate Satyrs.(2)
Adults fly from spring through fall in the coastal Southeast, primarily April through October.(2)
Larvae feed on the fresh growth of forest grasses. Ovipositing by females has been recorded on both Dichanthelium commutatum
and Chasmanthium laxum
and larvae have been identified on D. commutatum
and D. dichotomum
. Adults are predicted to feed on tree sap like other members of Satyrini. The species has been observed nectaring on several plant species, including Stellaria media
, but typical do not nectar.(2)
There are multiple broods per year. Eggs are laid singly on the new growth of a woodland grass in close proximity to an ephemeral wetland.
The larvae are are very similar in appearance to those of the Carolina Satyr but are a slightly more yellow hue in most cases. (The right image below shows an Intricate Satyr on the left and a Carolina Satyr on the right for comparison.) They are green with a yellow hue, a faint mid-dorsal stripe, shallowly forked tail, and a round cleft head a shade darker than the body. Larvae are lethargic, sedentary, and solitary, clinging to the underside of the grass and feeding on the edge of the blade.
Offspring of the fall brood overwinter as larvae on their host plant and begin pupation in late winter or spring. Pupae are very similar to those of Carolina Satyrs but appear to lack an abdominal spot present in the pupae of their congener.
Adults live for a few months after eclosure. Intricate Saytrs emerge asynchronously from Carolina Satyrs, which can result in several week periods where only one species is flying at a site until the other emerges. Austin (2018) also documented a population of Intricate Satyrs that skipped the spring brood entirely, with adults appearing for the first time in June of that year.
Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius) looks similar to H. intricata, with a similar range. The South Texas Satyr (Hermeuptychia hermybius) looks similar, but is found in south Texas, while neither the Intricate Satyr nor Carolina Satyr are found in the Rio Grande Valley.
An example of the diagnostic uncus of the genitalia in H. intricata: