Spialia rosae

Spanish Red Underwing Skipper


by Matt Rowlings

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Photo: rosae1.jpg

Sierra Nevada, Spain, July 2013

Photo: rosae2.jpg

Sierra Nevada, Spain, July 2013

Field notes and information

Studies in 2016 discovered this cryptic species, found only in Spain. It is indistinguishable from the red underwing skipper S. sertorius with which it may be found. However, it uses a different foodplant, has a different genetic and molecular make-up and has a much higher upper altitudinal limit.

I was fortunate to have photographed the species in the Sierra Nevada in 2013 at above 2000m. The site is infact the location of the holotype and the red underwing skipper S. sertorius is not know from this site. I could therefore associate these photos with rosae.

Identification & Similar species: Indistinguishable from the red underwing skipper S. sertorius using wing markings. A study of the habitat and altitude may help, but it is often sympatric with sertorius making identification challenging without supporting observations from the early stages, or indeed, molecular analysis (not practical field applications!).

Distribution: Only found in Spain, the distribution is probably not fully known due to it's recent discovery.

Habitat & Behaviour: A butterfly of hot dry meadows, this species uses Rosa sp. as larval foodplant rather than the Sanguisorba used by the red underwing skipper S. sertorius. It flies well above the altitudinal limit for sertorius reaching above 2000m, although there is considerable overlap at lower altitudes.

Photo: rosae4.jpg

Huesca, Spain, July 2017

Photo: rosae3.jpg

Huesca, Spain, July 2017