This is one of three very similar species. Through
much of its range it shares similar habitat with the Woodland Grayling, H.
fagi. The current species is smaller on average. It's been
speculated that the underside hindwing white band of alcyone has
its internal edge essentially straight with a large "bite" out
of it. In fagi the internal edge generally curves plus it has the
same "bite". I don't know if this is always true, and it is a
little subjective, but most of the smaller butterflies I've seen match
this criteria. On the upperside the forewing eye spot is well defined in
fagi by the white band in that surrounds it. In alcyone
this eyespot may not be well defined above as the white band fades away
- the eyespot merges into the background. This feature is difficult to
see as these butterflies do not open their wings when at rest.
The third species in this group is the Eastern Rock Grayling, H. syriaca.
This replaces alcyone in the southern Balkans. I think the same
rules separating fagi from alcyone apply to fagi
The butterflies I've photographed above are alcyone - the
Montes Universales are too far south for fagi so this is one of
the few places that the usual confusion with fagi does not exist.
They behave as most Hipparchia by hiding from the heat of the sun
in trees and crevices in rocks.