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Nymphalis antiopa

Camberwell Beauty

Field Notes

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Valais, Switzerland, April 2010


Berne, Switzerland, July 2009


Kastoria, Greece, July 2004

Pre-hibernation specimen with creamy yellow borders.


Kastoria, Greece, July 2004

Same butterfly as above


Valais, Switzerland, April 2009


Valais, Switzerland, April 2009
Dog fighting for territory


Rila Mountains, Bulgaria, July 2004

Kastoria, Greece, May 2004

Hibernated butterfly showing white around margins of wings.


Kastoria, Greece, May 2004

Hibernated specimen - typically very worn in May


Kastoria, Greece, May 2004

Dreadful picture but at least it is a record.


A magnificent butterfly. It is rarely encountered and usually only in ones or twos. I've found it most commonly in the mountains of northern Greece and on the south coast of France. Usually sightings are very brief as the butterfly soars through at high speed and high levels. The photos above were taken of rather tired hibernated butterflies, presumably nearing the end of their existence.

It is a butterfly of forested areas but as it has migratory tendencies, or at least it disperses widely, it can be found in towns and villages too. I've never found it here but most reports from the UK at least (where it isn't resident) are from these places. These are butterflies that arrive in the UK from Scandinavia in the east rather than the south which is usual for migrants.

When fresh in early summer the butterflies are a very rich velvet upperside colour with rich creamy yellow borders. They hibernate in mid summer and don't stir until the spring. During this period the creamy borders fade to white.