Common Brassy Ringlet (Erebia cassioides)

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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.

17626_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09 18653_male_Savoie_15Jul09 22240_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul10
39149_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15 8998_female_Hautes-Pyrénées_9Aug07 38206_male_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul15
38585_male_Ariège_16Jul15 17624_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09 26648_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11

This is the commonest (hence the name) of a group of Erebia known collectively as "brassy" ringlets, as they all exhibit a brassy sheen on the upperside, often visible in flight. It may be the commonest of the brassy ringlets, but I would not describe it as common, per se

 

The Col de Vars in the Hautes-Alpes is at an of altitude 2100m. Until 2006 this was the only place I had seen cassioides and when I first saw it in 2004 it took a few moments to realise what it was, especially as the underside has a silvery appearance in flight. Since then I have found it regularly at high altitude locations, always above 1800m. Lafranchis gives the minimum altitude as 1400m.

This species is referred to as Western Brassy Ringlet (Erebia arvernensis) in Lafranchis' ID book, and shown as occurring principally in the western Alpes and the Pyrénées, whereas cassioides is shown as occurring in the eastern Alpes and localities in the Balkans. This is somewhat confusing as most textbooks (including Lafranchis' earlier work on French butterflies) show cassioides as occurring in the Alpes and Pyrénées, with no reference to arvernensis which had not then been designated as a separate species. T&L refers to arvernensis as being the subspecies (of cassioides) that occurs in the Pyrénées, the Massif Central, and peninsular Italy.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
17626 M

a male, with the brassy sheen shown clearly by the green reflections. Fairly typical cassioides with the twin ocelli slightly offset from each other and having the red post-discal area just surrounding the ocelli.

2100
18653 M

a male, I think, even though the upf red post-discal band extends strongly to s4, less so to s3 and vestigial in s2, where the longer band would tend to indicate female. I am basing the assumption that it is a male, taking salts from dry-ish ground (females take moisture, but only from wet or damp ground?), and that the just-visible underside is more greyish and appears to lack the brownish colouring of the female underside. The fringes are also almost uniformly dark, whereas I would have expected them to be rather lighter or more chequered for a female. Either way, the shot catches the green reflections nicely, illustrating why they are called brassy ringlets.

2000
39149 M a rather dark male upperside with a very limited red post-discal band around the ocelli and no apparent brassy sheen. As it was seen in the Pyrénées, it is presumably of the subspecies (species?) arvernensis. 1600
22240 M

a very fresh male, as indicated by the straightness of the forewing margins and the body shape. The red upf post-discal band extends down to s3, lower than would be expected for a male.

2180
8998 F

a female cassioides, as clearly indicated by the body shape. It is of the subspecies (species?) arvernensis which occurs in the Pyrénées, with larger and fused upf ocelli, a brighter red upf post-discal band, and more prominent uph white centres to the ocelli. It was in the right territory for the Pyrenean Brassy Ringlet (E. rondoui), but rondoui has the upf ocelli merged to the extent that it is a single ocellus with two white centres.

1700
38206 M a rather dark male underside. 2020
38585 M a very strong discal line with very strong contrast across it. I am not sure that it is a male, as the silvery colouring and markings suggests that it is, but the shape of the abdomen may indicate otherwise. As it was seen in the Pyrénées, it is presumably of the subspecies (species?) arvernensis. 1930
17624 M

a male, as indicated by the clean silvery-grey colouring.

2100
26648 PAIR a mating pair. This shot illustrates very clearly the difference in colouring between the sexes, the brown female being on the right. 2100

 

17626_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09

 

18653_male_Savoie_15Jul09

 

22240_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul10

 

39149_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15

 

8998_female_Hautes-Pyrénées_9Aug07

 

38206_male_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul15

 

38585_male_Ariège_16Jul15

 

17624_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09

 

26648_pair_Alpes-Maritimes_09Jul11