False Heath Fritillary (Melitaea diamina)

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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.

25614_male_Alpes-Maritimes_10Jun11 12775_male_Isère_11Jul08 22675_male_Isère_18Jul10
41389_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul16 03_03-10A_male_Ariège_Jun03 - subspecies vernetensis 7522_female_Alpes-Maritimes_26Jun07
30513_male_Alpes-Maritimes_4Jul12 25770_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_12Jun11 18436_male_Isère_13Jul09

A very attractive and rather variable fritillary, usually (but not always) found at altitude. It is easily recognised because the uph black/dark brown has almost completely smothered the orange, reducing the orange to a series of disconnected spots mainly in the submarginal and post-discal areas. Darker specimens can look quite black in flight. It can vary in terms of size and shape, it seems to me, and can often be quite small.

The underside is characterized by the post-discal series of marks having (usually) a black spot and dark edging, although 18436 is obviously an exception.

One identification clue, that seems consistent, is that the marginal band is filled yellow.

ref sex


alt. m
25614 M a typical male, quite lightly marked especially on the upf. 1400
12775 M

a VERY dark male, although the dark uph is set off by the white margins.

22675 M

a quite heavily marked male, although not quite in the same league as 12775.

41389 M a male, rather dusky and reddish in apearance. 1960
03_03-10A M

this shot was taken in the Pyrénées and I think it must be diamina; the new Lafranchis book carries an illustration of the diamina subspecies vernetensis from the Eastern Pyrénées, and this matches it exactly - the key-shaped discal spot in s1b of the upf is characteristic.

7522 F

a female, larger and generally lighter than most males. It looks very much like a dark Heath Fritillary (M. athalia) although on balance I believe it to be diamina.

30513 M a male, the colouring being rather more yellow-brown than the norm. 2000
25770 M a male underside, quite heavily marked but not abnormal by diamina standards. The discal band is quite white as is the series of submarginal lunules, contrasting nicely with the yellow marginal band. 1080
18436 M

a male, in which the unh post-discal spots are faint unfilled circles rather than the solid black dots normal of diamina. The general colouring is unusually sandy yellow over the entire surface of the unh, especially the discal series (contrast with 25770).

21546 F

a female underside, the dark-filled unh post-discal lunules being typical of diamina.