Dusky Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae)

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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.

12208_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul08 13152_male_Valais, Switzerland_18Jul08 22040_male?_Hautes-Alpes_12Jul10
30610_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 30616_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 36083_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14
41510_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul16 33458_male_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul13 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.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
12208 M

I believe this is (or may be) a male cacaliae, even though it is more heavily marked than typical. I have seen only a limited number of this species, and for the first time in 2008, so my observations are based on limited experience and I am not certain as to the limits of the extent of upf white markings. In particular, the cell spot is worryingly large for cacaliae and the uph markings although pale and faint, are still heavier than would be normal for cacaliae. However, it is only fractionally more marked than the photograph of cacaliae in the Lafranchis France book. If not cacaliae, what can it be? Not andromedae, as the upf discal spot in s2 is vestigial on the left forewing and non-existent on the right. Large Grizzled Skipper (P. alveus) seems to be the only sensible alternative.

1990
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
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
33458 M a rather worn male underside, but nicely showing the definitive markings that differentiate cacaliae from other Pyrgus species (with the possible exception of andromedae): the long flat mark in basal s1; the wide discal s4/5 mark, extended at the top edge; the absence of any mark in discal s2. 2040
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

 

12208_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul08

 

13152_male_Valais, Switzerland_18Jul08

 

22040_male?_Hautes-Alpes_12Jul10

 

30610_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

30616_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

36083_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14

 

41510_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul16

 

33458_male_Hautes-Alpes_7Jul13

 

36093_female_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14