Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

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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.

29578_female_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jun12 16896_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun09 18902_male_Aisne_21Jul09
18228_male_Isère_12Jul09 21327_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10 21325_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10
   
37491_female_Rhône_10Jun15    

A very familiar butterfly, which seems to stay fresh and rarely seems battered (except after hibernating), unlike many other species nearing the end of their lives. It could easily be confused with the Cleopatra (G. cleopatra) in southern France as the wing-shape is almost identical except that rhamni is more "pointy" at the forewing apex and to some extent at the hindwing point at v3. Also the forewing costa of rhamni is usually slightly indented at the centre, giving a sweeping curved appearance, whereas cleopatra is usually slightly convex, although I do not believe this is always the case. I have rather come to the conclusion that it is not always possible to tell the difference with any degree of certainty.

The extensive orange upf colouration of cleopatra males is quite clear in flight, although less obvious when at rest (neither rhamni nor cleopatra rests with wings open, even for an instant). The male cleopatra underside is more of a pale greenish yellow and the upf orange patches are only visible (from the underside) at certain angles. The female cleopatra lacks the orange upf and is very similar to female rhamni.
ref sex

observations

alt. m
29578 F a female engaged in courtship, the male being visible on the right. 1320
16896 M

a typical male.

900
18902 M

a male and I think rhamni even though the forewing margin is very straight even to the rather unpronounced apex, usually indications of cleopatra. However, the colouration, and the fact that Aisne is nowhere near the cleopatra distribution, confirm rhamni.

80
18228 M

a male. I originally thought this might be cleopatra but the forewing apex is sufficiently pointed for rhamni and the general colouring is probably too yellow for cleopatra. The slight concavity of the rhamni forewing costa is not as apparent as other specimens, but I still think 18228 is rhamni.

1120
21327 M

a male, I think, and rather a pale yellow for rhamni, but the degree of pointedness of the forewing apex is conclusively rhamni.

1320
21325 F

a female.

1320
34791 F a female, perhaps less pointed at the forewing apex than the norm. 180

 

29578_female_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jun12

 

16896_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun09

 

18902_male_Aisne_21Jul09

 

18228_male_Isère_12Jul09

 

21327_male_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10

 

21325_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10

 

37491_female_Rhône_10Jun15