Araschnia levana



by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2008

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SE Serbia, June 2012

Field notes and information

This species shows the most dramatic seasonal dimorphism of all the European butterflies. The spring form has an orange ground colour on the upperside with angular black spots, with a passing resemblance to the fritillaries. The summer brood by contrast is is black with a white band, recalling the white admirals, Limenitis, species.

Once introduced into the UK it thrived for a few years before being exterminated by a someone who disagreed with introductions. Proof that over collecting can destroy isolated colonies of butterflies!!!

Identification & Similar species: The underside is unique, resembling a street map. Superficially similar to some of the fritillaries in the spring brood, the angular spots distinguish it.

Distribution & Flight: France and eastwards across central Europe. Flies in May/ June and July/ August.

Habitat & Behaviour: Wooded bushy places, often damp. Glides effortlessly around bushes and along woodland edges with brief flicks of the wing.

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SW Serbia, June 2012

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Vaud, Switzerland, September 2013

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Florina, Greece, May 2004

Spring generation underside showing 'map' like markings.

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Rila Mts, Bulgaria, July 2004

Summer generation.

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Florina, Greece, May 2004

Spring generation, the orange form.

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Fribourg, Switzerland, June 2021

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Fribourg, Switzerland, June 2021

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Vaud, Switzerland, May 2008

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Vaud, Switzerland, July 2010

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Vaud, Switzerland, July 2008

Resting in the shade on the underside of the larval food plant, stinging nettle, Urtica dioica.

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Vaud, Switzerland, September 2013

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Vaud, Switzerland, September 2013