Coenonympha darwiniana

Darwin's Heath

euroButterflies

by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2016

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Photo: darwiniana

Piedmont, Italy, July 2012

Photo: darwiniana

Hautes Alpes, France, July 2012

Field notes and information

There is debate about the taxanomic status of this butterfly. It replaces the alpine heath C. gardetta where it is found. In boundary areas there are transitional forms that may indicate that the current taxon is little more than a local form.

Identification & Similar species: Outside the transitional zones, this taxa can be separated from the alpine heath C. gardetta by the position of the subapical spot on the underside hindwing. In C. gardetta the spot is contained within the white band which has roughly uniform width and all spots are of similar size. In the current species this spot is displaced basally and falls outside the white band which is of variable width along its length and the spots are of variable size.

More generally, the ground colour of the hindwing is grey compared to ginger-brown. Transitional forms show a mix of all these characteristics.

Distribution & Flight: Mountains of southern Switzerland and north Italy, and the southern Alps of southeast France. Flies from late June to early August.

Habitat & Behaviour: Grassy flowery clearings in forests.

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, July 2006

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2006

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Hautes Alpes, France, July 2013

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Piedmont, Italy, July 2012

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, July 2007

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, June/July 2007

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Valais, Switzerland, July 2004

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, July 2005

Note the red mite sitting patiently on the flower head waiting to latch onto a passing insect. These mites are a common sight parasitising many meadowland butterflies in summer.

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, June 2004

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, June 2003

Photo: darwiniana

Valais, Switzerland, July 2006

This individual is an intermediate form with the Alpine Heath, C. gardetta.