Lesser Mountain Ringlet (Erebia melampus)

next page        back to list

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

22933_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul10 27685_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul11 13088_male_Valais, Switzerland_17Jul08
18706_male_Savoie_16Jul09 8180_male_Vaud, Switzerland_19Jul07 36322_male_Valais, Switzerland_19Jul14
41847_male_Savoie_21Jul16 27653_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul11 18699_male_Savoie_16Jul09

A small, high altitude, Erebia ringlet. Although it is one of several smaller Erebia of broadly similar size, I feel it is quite easy to identify (from other common Erebia of the same size) from the highly rounded forewing margin, the "sliced" upf wide red post-discal band with pinprick ocelli in s4 and 5 and to a lesser extent in s3. It is quite similar to the very localised Sudeten Ringlet (E. sudetica) which I have only seen on two occasions, so I am mainly going by the book illustrations. The defining characteristic (melampus vs. sudetica) is the unh red post-discal spots, where Lafranchis says the melampus spots in s3 and s4 (the second and third ones from the bottom) are displaced from being in line with the other three, and the spot in s4 is larger than the others, whereas in sudetica they are more or less in line; I would tend to say that the melampus spot in s3 is the one that is displaced, but this is a minor point. It certainly seems true that the spot in s4 is larger, and it also appears that the melampus spots are somewhat lanceolate (leaf-shaped) whereas the sudetica spots appear almost circular.

It is also quite similar to the Eriphyle Ringlet (E. eriphyle) of which Lafranchis says in his France book that it flies in western Switzerland and could fly in France but does not include a page entry for it; however, in his ID book he says it does fly in Savoie in France; see the comments regarding eriphyle on 8180 below. Lafranchis says that the eriphyle uph spot in s4 is constant and distinctly larger than the others. This appears to hold true for the unh (although Lafranchis does not specifically state this) based on photographs on trusted websites such as Matt Rowlings' and Guy Padfield's, both of which also rather confirm that the eriphyle s4 red spot is rather elongated.

 

The very scarce and localised Ratzer's Ringlet (E. christi) is cited in the books as occurring only around the Simplon Pass on the Switzerland/Italy border, but a UK expert once told me that it did occur in France. Like many butterfly things, sometimes an opinion is based on historical information of localities that have since disappeared, or maybe mistaken identification, or maybe the maverick experts are sometimes right, but in many cases I suspect no-one really knows for sure.

 

Lafranchis says melampus is widespread and abundant in Savoie and Haute-Savoie, but I have not found it so, although it was fairly common in the Valais in Switzerland.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
22933 M

a typical melampus male, with very vestigial blind ocelli in s4 and s5. The uph red spot in s4 is appreciably larger than the others, but I don't think that it is sufficiently so to warrant a suggestion that it might be eriphyle. Also, the upf red post-discal band looks too broad for eriphyle.

2150
27653 M classic male melampus. 2160
13088 M

a male, fairly typical with quite a wide upf red post-discal band and pin-prick ocelli in s3, 4 and 5.

1800
18706 M

a male, based on it's taking salts. The red post-discal band is narrower than 13088 which is typical melampus, and the interior edges of the band are dentate, again not typical melampus. The uph red mark in s4 is quite clearly extended, perhaps a pointer to eriphyle, but the uph red spots are just too large for eriphyle and the pinprick ocelli also tend to suggest not eriphyle. It must be melampus, but some doubts remain.

1850
8180 M

a male, the rounded forewing margins being characteristic of melampus. However, the inner edges of the upf post-discal series are quite dentate (I would say bullet-shaped), c.f. 13088, matching the T&L illustration of eriphyle, known to occur in Vaud. The unh of both melampus and eriphyle are very similar but T&L says the eriphyle unh red spots have no black centres, so, based on a view of the underside I had, 8180 must be melampus on the strength of this and the wing shape. The shape of the upf red spots was just a diversion. The uph red markings are more definitive, especially in s4, but not sufficiently visible here.

1550
36322 M a male with a red post-discal band of typical width for this species. 2090
41847 M a fresh male, with very vestigial upf ocelli, only in s5. 1680
27685 M a fairly standard underside. 2160
18699 M

the red post-discal spots look like a 100% match for melampus, in terms of size and location (s3 slightly displaced, s4 rather larger), plus the pinprick ocelli.

1850

 

22933_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul10

 

27685_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul11

 

13088_male_Valais, Switzerland_17Jul08

 

18706_male_Savoie_16Jul09

 

8180_male_Vaud, Switzerland_19Jul07

 

36322_male_Valais, Switzerland_19Jul14

 

41847_male_Savoie_21Jul16

 

27653_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul11

 

18699_male_Savoie_16Jul09