Cardinal (Argynnis pandora)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

31550_male_Var_1Sep12 16229_female_Var_18Jun09 9579_female_Var_5Sep07
25901_male_Var_25Jun11 11319_male_Var_19Jun08 9312_female_Var_28Aug07
11448_female_Var_25Jun08 21335_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10 2661_female_Var_11Jul06 - Argynnis paphia, form valezina

This is a majestic beast. It has superficially similar upperside markings to the Silver-washed Fritillary (A. paphia) but is somewhat larger and a beautiful bronze colour rather than paphia's orange (except for female paphia of the form valezina - or valesina - which is the green form). The unh is also green with similar markings to paphia, although the lower part of the unf is a deep rose red, which is a clear indicator of pandora. It is a butterfly of the deep south, not quite extending to central France, but it does occur along the west coast. According to Lafranchis, the flight period is from mid-May to the end of September in one long generation; it certainly emerges in May in Var and is usually in evidence mainly because it is a powerful flier and very large, so it can hardly be missed.

Whether that means it is common is another matter. Whereas I have seen quite a few in May/early June 2006, I did not see any more until late August and these were very fresh as can be seen in the photographs above, suggesting to me that they were second generation, not late emergers from a single generation. This second generation is quite abundant, especially in September.

 

It is a magnificent butterfly, not only in flight but also in its markings and colouring. The larger female is very heavily marked and the male is similar in colouring, with broad dark upf sex brands on veins 2 and 3. This is another butterfly where the female seems to be more in evidence than the male.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
31550 M a male, taking salts (puddling). This is the only occasion I have seen a male pandora doing this, and, as noted above, males seem less numerous than females, which is contrary to what might be expected in that males are normally more in evidence. 20
16229 F

a female, slightly less bronze than the other females on this page.

780
9579 F

another female, more clearly demonstrating the bronze effect.

920
25901 M a male underside, nicely capturing the pale green colouring so characteristic of male pandora. 680
11319 M

a male underside, strong consistent green ground colour and much reduced silvery streaks. The forewing is sufficiently raised to show the rose-red.

60
9312 F

another female from the same location as 9579, showing the enhanced green reflective sheen on the underside.

920
11448 F

a female underside, probably quite typical, with the silvery streaks more pronounced than the male.

60
21335 F

a large female, the forewing being sufficiently far forward to show the rose-red colouring quite clearly.

1320
2661 F

a female paphia of the form valezina, for comparison purposes.

 

 

31550_male_Var_1Sep12

 

16229_female_Var_18Jun09

 

9579_female_Var_5Sep07

 

25901_male_Var_25Jun11

 

11319_male_Var_19Jun08

 

9312_female_Var_28Aug07

 

11448_female_Var_25Jun08

 

21335_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10

 

2661_female_Var_11Jul06 - Argynnis paphia, form valezina