The eyed brown butterfly received this common name because its general coloration is brown with dark eyespots that can be seen on both sides of the wings. The color patterns of the male and female are similar, but the female is not as dark as the male and is larger than the male. The lower wings may have a lighter section along the outer edge. The eyespots on the uppersides of the wings may have a small, white center, but the ones on the undersides of the wings each have a white center as well as a light ring around the dark eyespot. The underwings show three, dark, irregular lines. The wingspan of this species is about two to two and one-half inches.
The eyed brown is found in sunny, moist areas. Its larvae eat sedges. The adult may feed on nectar or rotten fruit. There is one generation per year, and the adults are active from June through August. This species overwinters in the larval stage. It is mainly found in the northern one-third of the state and at a few scattered locations no further south than a line from about Quincy to Champaign.