Libythea celtis

Nettle Tree Butterfly

euroButterflies

by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2016

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Photo: celtis

Lesbos, Greece, April 2005

Worn example emerging in warm weather after winter hibernation.

Photo: celtis

Peloppensos, Greece, June 2013

Field notes and information

This is Europe's sole representative of the snout family, Libytheidae. They are characterised by long palpi that resemble a long nose.

Identification & Similar species: It is a highly cryptic butterfly closely resembling a dead leaf when it rests amongst leaf litter. Its hindwing also has a lobe which extends beyond the forewing when at rest, thus breaking up the typical outline of a butterfly. Perfect camouflage for a hibernating adult butterfly.

Distribution & Flight: It flies across southern Europe including central eastern countries and also on several of the Mediterranean islands in summer before hibernating in the extreme heat of August, not re-emerging until the first warm days of spring.

Habitat & Behaviour: Open light woodland, shrubs, towns. In spring hibernated specimens can be found circling the larval food plant, the nettle-tree, Celtis australis.

Photo: celtis

Peloppensos, Greece, June 2013

Photo: celtisPhoto: celtis

Peloppensos, Greece, June 2013

Photo: celtisPhoto: celtis

S Greece, June 2013

Photo: celtisPhoto: celtis

Gennargentu, Sardinia, Italy, July 2015

Photo: celtis

Peloppensos, Greece, June 2013

Photo: celtis

Piedmont, Italy, July 2012

Photo: celtisPhoto: celtisPhoto: celtis

Macedonia, Greece, July 2004

Photo: celtis

Macedonia, Greece, June 1995

(c) Peter Rowlings

Photo: celtis

Peloppensos, Greece, June 2013

Photo: celtis

Cevennes, France, August 1990

(c) Peter Rowlings

Photo: celtis

Provence, France, June 2003

Nettle Tree, the larval food plant around which I found a hibernated adult flying 2 months earlier, before leaves had budded.

Photo: celtis

Macedonia, Greece, July 2000

Demonstration of the effectiveness of the cryptic wing shape and coloration - essential for survival during hibernation.