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Erebia zapateri

Zapater's Ringlet

Field Notes

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Montes Universales, Spain, August 2003


Montes Universales, Spain, August 2003

(c) Peter Rowlings


Montes Universales, Spain, August 2003

Due to heat any glimpse of the upperside orange is a treat.


Montes Universales, Spain, August 2003


Montes Universales, Spain, August 2003

A gust of wind opened the dead butterfly's wings giving my best view of the upperside.

Note the front legs of the killer crab spider near the top of the picture.


Montes Universales, Spain, August 2003

A very beautiful species with a superb rich chestnut red on the underside forewing. The upperside has extremely bright orange markings, quite unlike any of the other Erebias, even the closely similar E. neoridas. The orange flashes brilliantly in flight. On landing the butterflies leave their wings open for about 1 second so the lepidopterist can admire it but cannot get photos of it. Consequently I only have the merest glimpse of orange on my living specimens and I've had to rely on a spider and a fortuitous gust of wind to open the wings of the hapless butterfly above.

zapateri has a very restricted range but fairly widespread where it is found. Its only home is the Montes Universales range in central Spain. It is only found above about 1300m above sea level in open forests with grassy areas. They were never common together and showed a very strong tendency to wander widely. Forest didn't form any kind of barrier to movement - I followed one for 500m straight through dense forest before giving up the chase. Evidently it doesn't restrict itself to its breeding ground or to stay in the sunshine or open areas.

It is the only very dark species flying in August in this area so it is very easy to spot at the roadside from the car. This way we found sites as far as 40km apart which is probably about as far apart as they get, even when we weren't looking for it. We found only 1 female so we may have been too early in the season for them even as we approached mid August.