Marsh Fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia)

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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.

20009_male_Var_7May10 20532_male_Doubs_1Jun10 10420_male_Alpes-Maritimes_9May08
12284_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul08 14791_male_Var_28Apr09 15734_male_Doubs_04Jun09
29086_male_Var_4May12 33518_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul13 10465_female_Alpes-Maritimes_10May08

34512_female_Var_21Apr14

40163_female_Var_19Apr16 41624_female_Hautes-Alpes_16Jul16
17314_female?_Alpes-Maritimes_06Jul09 33397_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul13 20012_male_Var_7May10
34548_male_Var_21Apr14 10473_female_Alpes-Maritimes_10May08 40114_chrysalis_Var_11Apr16

A beautifully marked butterfly, with a delicate orange upf submarginal band with smudgy beige centres. It is rare and has restricted distribution in the UK, but is reasonably widespread in France with a wide altitude range, often (and maybe most commonly) found at altitude. In the UK it is normally associated with damp areas, but my experience in France is that it is found in hot dry lowland areas, where it emerges in April, or at high or very high altitudes where the flight period is later, according to altitude.

 

The forewing colouration can vary from almost constant pale orange to a more variegated pattern of alternating lighter and darker bands.

There are three subspecies that occur in the PACA (Provence, Alpes, Côte d'Azur) region: provincialis, which occurs in low-lying areas and low-level hills (and includes all the specimens from Var on this page); frigescens, which occurs in higher levels of hilly areas and sub-Alpine regions; and the small dark subspecies glaciegenita that occurs above 2000m altitude. Three of the above individuals fit that latter description to a greater or lesser degree, but 15734 would not be considered (at 860m) to be high altitude. It is hard to believe that 14791 and 15734 are the same species.

 

A superb video of the life-cycle of aurinia has been produced by Filming VarWild and can be viewed on YouTube here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_-mZUxkOxQ

ref sex

observations

alt. m
20009 M

the markings and colouring of 20009 are, in my opinion, just sensational. It is breathtakingly beautiful.

220
20532 M

a rather dull, small aurinia from the semi-mountainous wetlands of the département of Doubs in the north-east of France.

860
10420 M

a typical male, great contrast in the upperside markings, with the whitish uph marginal marks setting the contrast nicely. The rather odd pose of one forewing held down seems to occur with some regularity. Aurinia sometimes settles with both wings folded back in a rather moth-like pose.

1000
12284 M

a darker male seen at high altitude of 2000m. It was not the smaller mountain subspecies debilis, which looks like a rather smaller and duller version of the nominate form, and occurs in the same region. It does, however, look like an intermediary form between aurinia and debilis.

2050
14791 M

a particularly orange male, from the low altitudes of southern Var.

185
15734 M

a particularly small and dark male from the Jura.

860
29086 M a fairly typical male of this region. 185
33518 M another example of the variability of this species, being broadly halfway between the orange and dark forms, perhaps surprising that it is not darker given the altitude. 2010
10465 F

a female, from the same location as 10420. It is rather larger than the male, with slightly less contrast in the markings.

1000
34512 F a female, not unlike 20009 except that the uph marginal lunules are quite pale. 220
40163 F a particularly lightly-marked freshly-emerged female. 370
41624 F a high altitude female, yet another variant in the markings of this exceptionally variable species. Curiously, having seen many high altitude forms of thsi species, not one has been clearly debilis. 2290
17314 F? I suspect this may be a female from the body length, although this is not at all clear. It is quite dark and lacking the colourfulness of its lowland cousins, although not as dark as some on this page from considerably lower altitudes. 1700
33397 M a male underside, rather lightly marked. 1800
20012 M

a rare, if slightly obscured, opportunity to get a snap of an underside. 20009 was the upperside.

220
34548 M a male. 220
10473 F

a female, a rare opportunity for an underside shot.

1000
40114 PUPA a chrysalis, one of many at this location where aurinia emerges in huge numbers in May. 220

 

20009_male_Var_7May10

 

20532_male_Doubs_1Jun10

 

10420_male_Alpes-Maritimes_9May08

 

12284_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul08

 

14791_male_Var_28Apr09

 

15734_male_Doubs_04Jun09

 

29086_male_Var_4May12

 

33518_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul13

 

10465_female_Alpes-Maritimes_10May08

 

34512_female_Var_21Apr14

 

40163_female_Var_19Apr16

 

41624_female_Hautes-Alpes_16Jul16

 

17314_female?_Alpes-Maritimes_06Jul09

 

33397_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul13

 

20012_male_Var_7May10

 

34548_male_Var_21Apr14

 

10473_female_Alpes-Maritimes_10May08

 

40114_chrysalis_Var_11Apr16