Pontia callidice

Peak White


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2005

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2018

Field notes and information

One of the highest flying of the European butterfly fauna, breeding upto 3000m altitude. These altitudes are exceptional, equalling even the highest flying Erebias. Other butterflies may be found at these altitudes but these will be travelling on updrafts of warm air or on migration routes, not breeding here.

Identification & Similar species: Distinctive in its habitat, but resembles the other bath whites plus the dappled whites, Euchloe. At lower levels it may overlap with these species too. It is separated by its uniformly green underside hindwing with arrow head like markings.

Distribution & Flight: High mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees. June and July, first dates increasing with altitude, but often amongst the first alpine species on the wing at a given location.

Habitat & Behaviour: Ranges to very high levels of around 3000m, or even higher. Also found in the valleys down to 1500m. Typically open alpine grasslands with lots of rocks and screes but also amongst scrub.

Flies at terrific speeds across open grassy or rocky places. Occasionally stops to feed on alpine flowers or on warm rocks to gain heat, the only rare opportunities to approach the butterfly.

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2018

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2018

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2020

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Vaud, Switzerland, July 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, June 2007

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2020

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2020

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Hautes Alpes, France, July 2004

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2006

Still and apparently lifeless, I pulled this butterfly from the cold water and within 10 minutes it was crawling over the rocks.

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2006