Titania's Fritillary (Boloria titania)

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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.

7878_male_Hautes-Alpes_4Jul07 26790_male_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11 30647_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12
41531_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul16 41994_female_Savoie_25Jul16 3901_female_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_15Aug06
38212_female_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul15 30638_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 8223_male?_Vaud, Switzerland_19Jul07
18811_female_Haute-Savoie_17Jul09 35966_pair_Hautes-Alpes_13Jul14 36021_pair_Hautes-Alpes_13Jul14

An attractive mountain fritillary with a minimum altitude range of around 800m. It is about the size of the Pearl-bordered Fritillary (B. euphrosyne) and superficially not dissimilar. In France it only occurs in the Alpes, where it can often be quite common, in the Massif Centrale, and in one location in the Jura. The clearly regular triangular or v-shaped uph submarginal marks identify titania from others of the same size; these marks are much narrower and more sagittate than for euphrosyne. Also, the titania underside is quite distinctive.

There is a subspecies cypris, with brighter upperside ground colour and stronger black markings, and attractive purple-brown marbling on the unh. According to T&L cypris does not occur in France, but the evidence on this page tends to disagree.
ref sex

observations

alt. m
7878 M

a typical male.

1750
26790 M a male, with quite dark markings and particularly heavy marginal triangles and post-discal spots. The regularity of the triangles tends to suggest the possibility of euphrosyne, but on balance there is more evidence pointing toward titania. 1700
30647 M a male, taking salts from the ground ("puddling"). The forewings are held back (seems to be often the case for puddling specimens of any species) making the forewings look thinner. 30638 is the underside. 2020
41531 M a crisply marked male in typical territorial pose. 2020
41994 F a female, usually significantly larger and duskier than the male. 41994 has pronouncedly sagittate submarginal chevrons. 1400
3901 F

a slightly suffused female of the form cypris, I believe. A female based on body shape and length.

1800
38212 F a rather dusky female. 2020
30638 M a male, the underside of 30647. This is the nominate form of titania, which appears to be less common in the French Alpes than the form cypris illustrated by the two undersides on this page. The underside is particularly lightly marked, which does not seem to be the result of wear. 2020
8223 M

the underside of the form cypris, dark and intricately marked. I suspect it is a male based on the length of the body, just visible.

1550
18811 F

a very dark female cypris underside, almost maroon.

1250
35966 pair a mating pair with the higher butterfly (usually the female in mating pairs?) being of the subspecies cypris, and the lower being of the nominate titania. T&L indicates that cypris does not occur in France, which is clearly not the case here. What is particularly puzzling is that these are two subspecies of titania and they are mating. According to H&R (page 11): "By definition no two subspecies... ever fly together; but if and when their ranges meet they can, and often do, interbreed and produce intermediate forms." This seems to be contradictory - by definition they never fly together, but if they do... ?? We'll give them the benefit of the doubt in that when two subspecies meet at the edges of their respective ranges, they can interbreed. What is puzzling here is that both titania (the nominate species) and cypris are quite regularly encountered in the Alpes and their ranges seem to overlap considerably. Equally, when they have been seen, and this species is fairly common and widespread, they are always clearly of one subspecies or the other, without ever suggesting an intermediate form. They are on the larval hostplant, Bistort (Polygonum bistorta). 2020
36021 pair the same pair as above, a close-up of the magnificently marked cypris subspecies. 2020

 

7878_male_Hautes-Alpes_4Jul07

 

26790_male_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11

 

30647_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

41531_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul16

 

41994_female_Savoie_25Jul16

 

3901_female_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_15Aug06

 

38212_female_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul15

 

30638_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

8223_male?_Vaud, Switzerland_19Jul07

 

18811_female_Haute-Savoie_17Jul09

 

35966_pair_Hautes-Alpes_13Jul14

 

36021_pair_Hautes-Alpes_13Jul14