Zerynthia rumina

Spanish Festoon


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

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Anti-Atlas, Morocco, March 2022

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Middle Atlas, Morocco, May 1998. (c) Peter Rowlings

Field notes and information

A very bright dramatic butterfly of southwest Europe and north Africa. The "dazzle" colour scheme completely breaks up the food-ness of this insect. It must be quite tricky for any potential predator to decide which part to attack!

Identification & Similar species: Can only be confused with the closely related southern festoon, Z. polyxena. This can only happen where the species' ranges overlap in southeast France. There are many subtle differences, chief amongst which are: presence of blue in on the upper hindwing and extensive red on the upper forewing.

Distribution & Flight: north Africa, Iberian peninsular and south France. Generally April and May although old specimens can be found occasionally in June. It can also be found in low numbers in the autumn south Spain (and elsewhere?).

Habitat & Behaviour: Flies in hills upto 2100m in north Africa but only to around 1000m in France. I've generally found it on grassland in scrubby areas, sometimes bordering habitation or cultivation. It does share some habitats with its close relative the southern festoon, Z. polyxena in southern France where the species' ranges overlap. Larvae take Aristolochiae (birthworts).

Flight is fairly direct and gliding but not strong. Flies gently above the grasses, sometimes stopping frequently for nectar or for a rest low down on the leaves or twigs of a bush or tree or on warm rocks or bare earth.

Variation: honnoratii: extensive pink colouration. africana: form from north Africa. canteneri: females with a rich mustard yellow ground colour.

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Var, France, May 2004

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Southern Festoon, Z. polyxena.

Very little or no red on forewing, blue on hindwing outside the red marks.

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Spanish Festoon, Z. rumina.

Extensive red on the upperside forewing, no blue on hindwing.

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Azrou, Middle Atlas, Morocco, May 1998. (c) Peter Rowlings

The African subspecies africana has bolder markings than the European subspecies and less red in the cell of the forewings.

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Anti-Atlas, Morocco, March 2022

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Bouches du Rhône, France, April 2004

Form medesicaste with red spot in basal area of hindwing.

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Malaga, Spain, May 2019

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Catalonia, Spain, May 2007

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Taroudant, Morocco, April 2013

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Var, France, May 2012

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Bouches du Rhône, France, April 2004

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Anti-Atlas, Morocco, March 2022

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Prov. Malaga, Spain, April 2009

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Malaga, Spain, May 2019

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Anti-Atlas, Morocco, March 2022

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Anti-Atlas, Morocco, March 2022