Melitaea aetherie

Aetherie's Fritillary

euroButterflies

by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2016

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Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

Male with large open areas of bright orange.

Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

The female is relatively darker than the male.

Field notes and information

A very local species in restricted areas of the southern coast of Spain and Portugal and northeast Sicily. More widespread in north Africa, but still very local and hard to find.

Identification & Similar species: Several similar species are differentiated as follows:

Glanville fritillary M. cinxia: Upperside discal band forms a continuous line. Hindwing post discal row of black spots on upper and undersides. Upperside ground colour uniform. Underside hindwing post discal row of black pupilled orange spots lack black arches. Most of Europe and northwest Africa. Absent from most of southern Spain, most of Scandinavia and the UK.

Knapweed fritillary M. phoebe: Upperside discal band usually a thick line of more or less joined up squarish spots. Hindwing postdiscal row of black spots only on upperside, and often absent. Upperside ground colour variegated with post discal area usually a deeper orange. Most of Europe and north Africa except the UK, Scandinavia.

Freyer's fritillary M. arduinna: Upperside discal band a row of mostly separated round spots. Very local in the Balkans, from northern Greece to eastern Serbia.

Aetherie's fritillary M. aetherie: Upperside discal band a row of well separated round spots and post discal band in the male very lightly marked. Hindwing post discal row lacking black spots. Uppserside ground colour uniform. Very local in north Africa, Sicily, south Spain and south Portugal.

Distribution & Flight: Local in the mountains of north Africa and very local in south Spain and south Portugal. Also recorded extremely locally in Sicily and south Italy. It is found from mid April and in May with a second generation in September reported in Italy.

Habitat & Behaviour: Open grasslands and flowery meadows amongst hills. Strongly attracted to flowers, particularly Knapweeds. It flies strongly but in my limited experience only for short distances, just as far as the the next flower or patch of bare earth to sun themselves on.

Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

My best underside photo!

Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

The bare earth on the other side of the fence attracted sunbathing butterflies. No way across these substantial fences for the photographer though.

Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

Photo: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

Photo: aetheriePhoto: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008

Photo: aetheriePhoto: aetherie

Prov. Malaga, S Spain, May 2008