Dusky Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae)

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2018 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

13152_male_Valais, Switzerland_18Jul08 22040_male?_Hautes-Alpes_12Jul10 30610_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12
30616_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 45313_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18 45343_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18
45292_female_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18 45351_female_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18 36083_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14
41510_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul16 45327_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18 36093_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14

Cacaliae is a high altitude species. The minimum altitude range stated by Lafranchis is 1500m but in my limited experience it is found considerably higher than this. It appears to often fly in company with the Alpine Grizzled Skipper (P. andromedae). The absence of the upf discal spot in s2 is often quoted as the differentiator between cacaliae and andromedae (which has this spot), but there seems to me to be more fundamental differences in terms of the size and strength of the upf white markings.

It is a slightly larger Pyrgus than the norm for this group, with a characteristic grey-brown upperside colouring, small discrete white upf spots and an unmarked uph. The key to this species seems to be that none of the spots are large. It also has a rather dusky appearance, especially when fresh, hence the name.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
13152 M

a very typical cacaliae, very lightly marked in a way such that it really cannot be anything else.

2380
22040 M?

I am fairly confident that is cacaliae, although not to the same extent as 13152. The small discrete white upf marks look good for cacaliae and the uph is clearly unmarked.

2050
30610 M I originally thought this was alveus, maybe something about the wing shape being rather wide and slightly narrow suggested alveus, and the uph markings looked a little too strong for cacaliae. The upf markings, although small and well within the range for cacaliae, looked to be more like vestigial versions of larger marks rather than the small and discrete (by design) marks of cacaliae. However, on balance I feel it is more likely to be cacaliae. 2020
30616 M a typical male cacaliae. 2020
45313 M a male, with rather larger spots than average, at the top end of the range for this species. 2550
45343 M a mating pair, the male opening up in this shot. 45351 is the same pair, with the female opening up.  2550
45292 F a female, as indicated by the body shape and end of the abdomen. 2550
45351 F the same mating pair as 45343, with the female opening up in this shot. Mating pairs are often quite mobile and it is then possible to get clear shot of both butterflies. 2550
36083 F a female, showing that the number and size of white marks is almost identical to the male. 36093 is the underside. 2550
41510 F a female, quite a light brown ground colour, but the markings are very typical for cacaliae, and this specimen was noticeably large when seen in the field. 2020
45327 M a male underside. The relatively light brown colour makes it distinct from andromedae, with which it often flies in company. 2550
36093 F a female underside, 36083 being the upperside. The colouring is rather paler and more delicate than might be expected, and the unh basal mark in s1 is rather weak. 2550

 

13152_male_Valais, Switzerland_18Jul08

 

22040_male?_Hautes-Alpes_12Jul10

 

30610_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

30616_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

45313_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18

 

45343_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18

 

45292_female_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18

 

45351_female_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18

 

36083_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14

 

41510_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul16

 

45327_male_Hautes-Alpes_5Jul18

 

36093_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14