Queen of Spain Fritillary (Issoria lathonia)

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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.

11853_male_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jul08 13665_male_Lozčre_21Aug08 20790_male_Var_14Jun10
21684_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 34859_male_Var_25May14 21291_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10
6400_female_Var_3Jun07 11858_male_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jul08 38242_male_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul15
 
24860_sex?_Var_17May11 21369_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10  

A breathtakingly beautiful butterfly and, although I might assert that I have no favourites, this is not entirely true. The underside is characteristic and unlike any other fritillary with large silver “mirrors”. The size can vary enormously between the sexes, the female as usual being much larger, and also between broods. The rather square wing shape is also unlike any other. It has a wide altitude range and is often found at very high altitudes and sometimes at temperatures that seem far too cold for any butterfly.

It is highly migratory and therefore very widespread and frequently encountered, but rarely more than a few in any one place - the one exception I have found was in 2010 when I encountered 25 or so in one location in the Alpes-Maritimes, in company with about 50 Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (Boloria euphrosyne) and six other types of fritillary in smaller numbers.

In the UK, it has in recent years started to become a regular visitor and there is a possibility that it might start to breed on the south coast and become established as a resident. Despite its powerful migratory instincts, that have only been 500 recorded sightings in the UK since recording began.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
11853 M

a male, despite the darkness of the markings and the body shape.

1400
13665 M

a male, at the other end of the scale, quite lightly marked.

1450
20790 M

a male.

920
21684 M

a male, almost identical to 20790.

1400
34589 M a male, I suspect, although I am not 100% sure. 20
21291 F

a female, I think, based on the more extensive uph basal suffusion.

1320
6400 F

 a female, very strong orange and big bold black markings, plus extensive basal suffusion on both upper wings. A magnificent butterfly.

140
11858 M

a very dark male, the deep red setting off the silver mirrors to good effect.

1400
38242 M a male puddling at the river's edge. The reflectivity of the mirrors is not particularly apparent because of the viewing angle. 2020
24860 ? fairly standard lathonia, which kept returning to the same spot. 20
21369 F

a female, showing the unh silvery mirrors.

1320

 

11853_male_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jul08

 

13665_male_Lozčre_21Aug08

 

20790_male_Var_14Jun10

 

21684_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10

 

34859_male_Var_25May14

 

21291_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10

 

6400_female_Var_3Jun07

 

11858_male_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jul08

 

38242_male_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul15

 

24860_sex?_Var_17May11

 

21369_female_Alpes-Maritimes_3Jul10