Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus)

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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.

24703_male_Var_13May11 17950_male_Isère_11Jul09 34961_male_Var_27May14
39161_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15 39162_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15 39184_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15
42020_male_Rhône_21Aug16 34906_female_Var_27May14 23787_female_Var_5Sep10
14251_female_Var_9Sep08 29198_female_Var_12May12 34946_male_Var_27May14
21642_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 24816_male_Var_15May11 22838_male_Isère_19Jul10

A widespread (relative to the others) Pyrgus, although I rarely find it in more than ones and twos. It has a brown upperside ground colour, often with a sandy flush in the upf basal region. The female often seems to be a sandy yellow-brown colour. It has a fairly strongly marked upf and uph, the male being more strongly marked than the female, as is usual for Pyrgus. The male uph discal mark is usually noticeably white and of characteristic shape, similar to an old-fashioned wooden clothes peg.

 

It is of average size for Pyrgus and the female often has a rather rounded wing shape, I find.

The unh has rather dark brown ground colour and the veins are yellow and usually prominent. The unh discal mark in s4/5 often straight-edged internally and cleft externally in a shape that seems reasonably constant and characteristic of armoricanus. There is usually a small-medium round spot in the unh discal s2.

Its distribution is across most of eastern France, particularly in the south and in the Pyrénées. It is generally a lower altitude species than its cousins, not occurring at altitudes above 1700m.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
24703 M a typical male armoricanus. The pale markings are quite white, and well contrasted. 140
17950 M

a male, from the visible but rather weak and strange abdominal hair tufts at each side. The markings and the upf sandy appearance of the basal region is strongly indicative of armoricanus, I believe, even though the markings are rather on the light side for this species. Maybe it is a female, which would explain the lighter markings.

1120
34961 M a male, a rather cold dark brown ground colour and particularly strong and white markings, giving good contrast. 220
39161 M from a visit to the Hautes-Pyrénées, where armoricanus seemed to be quite common. This, and the two that follow, were puddling together at the sandy edge of a river. 39161 is perhaps most typical, with a rather cold dark brown ground colour and pale whitish uph discal markings. 39162 is a much warmer dark brown with a distinctly sandy basal area on the upf, but a rather pale uph discal mark. 39184 is similar, perhaps a rather more mid-brown ground colour and a uph discal mark that is slightly better developed than 39162 but still rather weaker than what would be expected for this species. It is assumed that all three are armoricanus, with the possibility that 39184 may be a Large Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus alveus). 1600
39162 M see comment on 39161 above. 1600
39184 M see comment on 39161 above. 1600
42020 M a male from the Rhône département, rather lighter in colouring than the specimens seen further south. 600
34906 F a female, fresh and showing the reflective sandy flush on the basal region of the upf. The uph is quite strongly marked for a female. It was seen at the same location and time as 34961, illustrating the difference between the two sexes. 220
23787 F

a very fresh female, with a beautiful rich dark brown colouring. The markings on the upf and uph look exactly right for female armoricanus, and I am fairly confident this is what it is, despite the absence of a upf sandy basal flush. The only options are Olive Skipper (P. serratulae) or Cinquefoil Skipper (P. cirsii) and there are good reasons why it is neither of these. Rosy Grizzled Skipper (P. onopordi) is an option but the upf cell spot does not seem strong enough for onopordi. The right upf cell spot (which does not appear to be symmetrical with the left one) is in the shape of a question mark, maybe mocking those who try to identify it.

920
14251 F

 a female, more lightly marked than the male, and has the pale dusted appearance that I associate (rightly or wrongly) with armoricanus.

920
34946 M a male underside. It was seen at the same location and time as 34961, but it is not the same individual. 220
29198 F

a female, with the characteristic sandy flush, especially pronounced in the basal region of the forewing. The uph markings are rather diffuse and pale yellow-brown.

220
21642 M

meeting all the criteria for armoricanus. The deep sandy brown unh ground colour and yellow veins are almost sufficient to identify armoricanus alone. All of the markings match the classic armoricanus almost 100%.

1400
24816 M this armoricanus underside was confirmed by a clear view of the upperside. 280
22838 M

another example of a male armoricanus, meeting all the criteria.

1120

 

24703_male_Var_13May11

 

17950_male_Isère_11Jul09

 

34961_male_Var_27May14

 

39161_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15

 

39162_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15

 

39184_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15

 

42020_male_Rhône_21Aug16

 

34906_female_Var_27May14

 

23787_female_Var_5Sep10

 

14251_female_Var_9Sep08

 

29198_female_Var_12May12

 

34946_male_Var_27May14

 

21642_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10

 

24816_male_Var_15May11

 

22838_male_Isère_19Jul10