Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus baeticus)

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2017 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

30082_male_Var_1Jul12 30090_male_Var_1Jul12 29788_male_Var_8Jun12
39279_male_Var_30Aug15 40561_male_Var_15May16 42624_male_Var_13May17
42635_male_Var_13May17 40552_female_Var_15May16 40559_female_Var_15May16
42681_female_Var_13May17 23634_female_Var_4Sep10 42623_male_Var_13May17
 
40570_female_Var_15May16 23637_female_Var_4Sep10  

This is quite a rarity, easily the most elusive of the four Carcharodus species that occur in France. It is essentially an Iberian species, the distribution "spilling" into the far south of France.

 

It is quite similar to the Mallow Skipper (C. alceae) in terms of size and colouring, although the spring brood of baeticus is rather more greyish than the brown autumn brood. The uph discal series of white spots is highly indicative, being more extensive than the white marks of the Tufted Marbled Skipper (C. flocciferus) and the uph submarginal series of marks of baeticus is described in books as sinuous, usually only visible in fresh specimens e.g. 30082). The underside holds the key to its identification in that it is pale brown and the white discal series is complete, and the key diagnostic feature is the prominent lighter veins; this is not the case for the other Carcharodus species. The sub-marginal unh series of markings also rather reflects the sinuous series of the uph. 42623 shows this very clearly.

I saw baeticus for the first time in 2010, the only one I saw at that location. Curiously, and as is often the case, I saw another in a different location only a few days later. In 2012 a location was discovered in northern Var at around 1000m altitude, where the baeticus was restricted to the region where the larval hostplant, Marrubium vulgare (White Horehound), was growing. It is a species that is "tied" to its larval hostplant, and its flight is usually short and buzzy, from one plant to another, as most of these shots attest. It is almost constantly on the move, so photography is difficult.

 

In 2016 and again in 2017 I visited a remote site in Var that I had been told about where a healthy colony existed, albeit of only about six or so individuals flying there at any one time.

 

This species was previously widely known as Carcharodus boeticus but in the new European taxonomy, this species now has the scientific name Carcharodus baeticus.

 
ref sex

observations

alt. m
30082 M a fresh male showing the sinuous wavy line in the submarginal region of the hindwing. 1020
30090 M a rather worn male. 1020
29788 M a rather worn male on the larval hostplant, Marrubium vulgare. 1020
39279 M this male was seen in the far west of Var, in a location where I had not seen this species before although it had been historically recorded from there. However, its stay on this planet was short-lived as moments later it had been taken by a Robber Fly. 680
40561 M a first brood male as can be seen from the rather greyish colouring and the male's hair tuft at the end of the abdomen. 420
42624 M a fresh male, with the forewing slightly folded down such that the uph marks are not completely visible. This is a fairly normal pose and may be the reason why baeticus is possibly under-recorded as, in this pose, it could easily be confused with alceae. 420
42635 M a male, slightly aged and a little paler. 420
40552 F a first brood female, as indicated by the end of the abdomen. 420
40559 F the same female as 40559, egg-laying on Marrubium vulgare. 420
42681 F a fresh female, taking a brief rest after a sustained spell of egg-laying. This offers the best chance of a clear photograph, but it does entail watching a female for a reasonable period of time. 420
23634 F the white marks are still clearly in evidence despite 23634 being very much at the end its flight period. This photo, the only one I have of the second brood, shows how the second brood colour is brown compared to the grey of the first brood. 560
42623 M a clear view of a male underside, showing the extent of the unh pattern, making baeticus unmistakeable from this view as no other Carcharodus species has this degree of patterning. 420
40570 F a couple engaged in courtship, which entailed a curious process of repeated antenna touching. The female on the left is quite fresh and the reticulated underside pattern, characteristic of this species, is clearly visible. 420
23637 F

the underside of 23634 demonstrating how important a view of both surfaces can be for positive identification; with just the upperside view, it might not be 100% conclusive to identify this as baeticus.

560

 

30082_male_Var_1Jul12

 

30090_male_Var_1Jul12

 

29788_male_Var_8Jun12

 

39279_male_Var_30Aug15

 

40561_male_Var_15May16

 

42624_male_Var_13May17

 

42635_male_Var_13May17

 

40552_female_Var_15May16

 

40559_female_Var_15May16

 

42681_female_Var_13May17

 

23634_female_Var_4Sep10

 

42623_male_Var_13May17

 

40570_female_Var_15May16

 

23637_female_Var_4Sep10