Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Discussion forum for any overseas items (given that this is a "UK" butterflies forum!).
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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby petesmith » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:20 am

That's a great shot of the Gavarnie Ringlet Roger! I am very jealous - not a species I have seen before. Think a trip to the Pyrenees might be called for next year...
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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby Padfield » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:39 am

I agree - great photo of gorgone. I know good sites for both gorgone and lefebvrei in the Val d'Aran. Very striking is that lefebvrei never, ever, strays even a couple of metres from its scree slope (where it is extremely difficult to photograph because of the scree!). If this is generally true of the species, it explains why it is so easy to miss. Everywhere that is comfortably walkable, you are guaranteed not to see one.

Interesting photo of female eros. It is completely different from the only female eros I have managed to photograph. I hope you don't mind my posting this in your diary, Roger, just for comparison:



What struck me at the time was the silvery sprinkling of blue scales, recalling the silvery colour of the male. Yours is not recognisably the same species. Very interesting.

Guy's Butterflies: http://www.guypadfield.com

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Roger Gibbons
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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby Roger Gibbons » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:14 am

Fell free to post on this thread, Guy (or anyone else). I don't consider it my personal diary.

More from my travels:

This is an underside of a very fresh male Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron). It didn’t really open its wings, but no matter, the underside is almost as appealing.
Lycaena alciphron_43871.JPG

This is a typical male Meadow Fritillary (Melitaea parthenoides), deep orange colour, uph “gappy”, oblique black mark in upf discal s1.
Melitaea parthenoides_43926.JPG

Back in the Mercantour, Meleager’s Blue (Polyommatus daphnis) is one species I usually miss as I am the region too early, sometimes a male is on the wing but rarely a female, so this year I went in the third week in July and was not disappointed. The male is first, lovely ghosted marginal markings, and the uniquely scalloped hindwing makes the female unmistakeable. The female is of the brown form steeveni.
Polyommatus daphnis_44655.JPG
Polyommatus daphnis_44667.JPG

This Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe) had two rather strange white patches on the underside and these were replicated on the upperside, too. Very strange.
Argynnis niobe_44447.JPG

I’ve managed to go a little while without a Pyrgus underside, so here is a male Carline Skipper (Pyrgus carlinae), very neat markings and a very rich red-brown ground colour.
Pyrgus carlinae_44875.JPG

Grayling (Hipparchia semele) is sometimes encountered in small numbers in the Mercantour, although in much of the département of Gard it can sometimes be very common, and in one place I counted over a hundred.
Hipparchia semele_43558.JPG

I have some history with Sooty Ringlet (Erebia pluto), having seen it at two locations in the past two years when it never settled to allow a photo. This year I got lucky with this heavily gravid female at 2600m. There were males but they flew almost incessantly as they are wont to do, stopping only briefly to nectar from Dandelions half-way up the rocky scree, enabling some very fuzzy distance shots. The males are jet black on both surfaces while the female has the usual Erebia red bands on the upf.
Erebia pluto_44781.JPG

It’s not all exotic species, and a familiar Silver Washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) can be just as appealing, as evidenced by this very fresh male. I think the photo almost catches the silvery streaks.
Argynnis paphia_43041.JPG

Dusky Meadow Brown (Hyponephele lycaon) is a species that is found at medium to high altitudes. It is smaller than its common cousin and the unh is rather “rougher” and greyer. It is mostly males that are seen, but this is actually a rarely-seen female.
Hyponephele lycaon_44549.JPG

Dusky Large Blue (Phengaris nausithous) is a very localised and threatened species of the wetlands. In France, it only occurs in very small colonies in the east of the country. It usually flies in company with Scarce Large Blue (P. teleius) and at this location, there were very healthy numbers of both flying. This is a mating pair, probably the female uppermost. Not a common sight.
Phengaris nausithous_44983.JPG

The journey ends near Lyon where the Dryad (Minois dryas) is quite numerous in its localities. I find the female, as below, to be a fascinating species – why should a Satyrid have such large blue centres to its ocelli?
Minois dryas_45005.JPG

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David M
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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby David M » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:27 pm

I keep searching for female Dusky Meadow Browns, Roger, but I have yet to find one! I'll keep persevering.

Your Carline Skipper is to die for. Are they always that dark on the undersides?

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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby Sylvie_h » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:57 am

Hi Roger,

Nice pictures! and well done on the Scarce Fritillary (that is beautiful specimen you've found). I believe that this butterfly was more widespread in France but has now the status of threatened (espece menacée)... :(

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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby Matsukaze » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:42 pm

Not quite Var, but there are a series of articles in this link about butterflies high in the Basses-Alpes in 1932 that I imagine would be of interest to the regulars here.


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Re: Butterflies of Var, Southern France

Postby David M » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:13 pm

I've briefly skimmed through the information on that link, Matsukaze, and it is a treasure trove of time gone by. How I wish I had it in bound hard copy form by my bedside!

A glimpse into a world long gone.

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