Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra)

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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.

2284_male_Var_4Jul06 17183_male_Alpes-Maritimes_04Jul09 21354_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10
4769_female_Var_17Apr07 9166_female_Dordogne_14Aug07 11553_female_Var_25Jun08

Very similar to the Brimstone (G. rhamni) (please see the rhamni page for comparative notes) and the two could be confused from looking at photographs of the butterflies at rest i.e. the undersides, unless you see it in flight where the upf orange patches of cleopatra (male only) are quite clearly visible and quite breathtaking. Like rhamni, it never rests with wings open, which a great pity.

I have seen cleopatra in many locations in southern France (its range does not extend to the north) and in one favourite location in 2003 there were 10-12 on one small patch of flowers and, in fact, in southern France I would say it is decidedly more common than rhamni.
ref sex

observations

alt. m
2284 M

a male, the orange upf flush showing through quite clearly. This is not easy to capture on film and the angle has to be just right.

230
17183 M

a male, just catching it nectaring with wings not quite fully closed, revealing a rare glimpse of the forewing orange patch.

1000
21354 M

a male. The forewing apex has more than a suggestion of rhamni in terms of its pointedness, but I think the cleopatra orange flush can just be detected. As such, it is the most pointed cleopatra forewing I have seen, and I am by no means 100% certain that it is not rhamni. An expert recently expressed the opinion that it is rhamni, which may well be true; it seemed that the forewing margin was too straight up to the point (rhamni is more curved here) and the colouring just did not look yellow enough for rhamni. I will have a close look in 2013 at cleopatra wing shapes.

1320
4769 F

the illustrations in T&L show the female underside as very pale, almost white, but my experience is that they are pale greenish-yellow. The wing tip is quite pointed, but I still feel it is cleopatra rather than rhamni.

30
9166 F

a female, also strongly yellow-green, and with a very prominent red unh discoidal spot.

70
11553 F

a female, quite a strong yellow streak through the forewing cell.

60

 

2284_male_Var_4Jul06

 

17183_male_Alpes-Maritimes_04Jul09

 

21354_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10

 

4769_female_Var_17Apr07

 

9166_female_Dordogne_14Aug07

 

11553_female_Var_25Jun08