Helicta Satyr (Neonympha helicta)
Helicta Satyr is a recently recognized species that is very similar to the closely related Georgia Satyr (Neonympha areolata). I followed the bouncing flight of one of this pair for several minutes before he dropped down into the grass to find a mate. After a couple of minutes they paired up. The female is the larger, fresher one - on the right in this photo.
Harnett Co., NC 6/5/05.
Amazingly, the couple allowed Randy Emmitt to pick them up! Here, the male is on the left. Ron Gatrelle, who elevated helicta to species level, says these are typical looking helicta.
Here the female is on the left. The easiest to notice difference between Helicta and Georgia is the shape of the eye-spots on the hindwing - oval to round in Helicta, elongate in Georgia. There are supposed to be habitat and flight differences, but we didn't notice that these were different from those of Georgia Satyr. Ron notes that "ovipositing females and males looking for mates will be low and in vegetation and purposeful in flight. The character of higher faster flight of helicta is for general getting-about type of flight." He has "only found areolata in permanently wet places - sedge marsh or very wet ditches (and adjoining areas). Helicta has a far wider range than areolata." Whether Helicta is a valid species is still a matter of discussion. See the links below for more on how to tell the two apart.
Links to more information:
Here is the paper elevating Helicta to species status. Click on the title for the pdf file:
Gatrelle, RR. 1999. Hübner's helicta: the forgotten Neonympha. The Taxonomic Report of the International Lepidoptera Survey 1(8): 1-8.