Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania)

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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.

37907_male_Alpes-Maritimes_23Jun15 25602_male_Alpes-Maritimes_10Jun11 2215_sex?_Drôme_1Jul06
11411_female_Var_22Jun08 35181_sex?_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_2Jun14 37293_pair_Var_16May15

Arcania is an attractive butterfly, bright orange when fresh, and often very common and widely distributed in southern France. However, in the Alpine regions I was checking each “pearly” closely in case it was the much rarer Darwin's Heath (C. darwiniana).

I have placed the more detailed comparison of the relative features of arcania, darwiniana, and the Alpine Heath (C. gardetta) on the darwiniana page.

 
ref sex

observations

alt. m
37907 M a rare view of the upperside of this male. It appeared to be unable to close its wings but was able to move around on the ground. It is identifiable as male based on body shape and length, and on the broad dark borders whereas the female has rather narrower borders. 1080
25602 M a male, presumably, as it appears to be taking salts. The marginal silver line is very much reduced and almost vestigial on the unf. 1400
2215 ?

a typical arcania, with a clear light band on the unf and, unusually, two ocelli. The unh ocelli are quite strong in s2/3, strong black with clear white centres, medium in s4 and small in s1 and s5, with a creamy post-discal band. The marginal silver band is strong and complete, more visible in the enlarged versions below. The s6 ocellus looks as if it could be considered as "contained within" the light post-discal band.

1180
11411 F

a female, based on the visible body shape. No ocellus in s1.

450
35181 ? a rather paler arcania than the norm, with yellowish-ringed and smallish ocelli. It also has no discernible unf submarginal silver line, in common with 25602. 880
37293 PAIR a mating pair of beautifully fresh arcania. It is perhaps the female above, as the female usually seems to take the dominant role during mating. It is interesting to speculate on how the upper partner is clinging on to the underside of the leaf. 220

 

37907_male_Alpes-Maritimes_23Jun15

 

25602_male_Alpes-Maritimes_10Jun11

 

2215_sex?_Drôme_1Jul06

 

11411_female_Var_22Jun08

 

35181_sex?_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_2Jun14

 

37293_pair_Var_16May15