Safflower Skipper (Pyrgus carthami)

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2017 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

26153_male_Alpes-Maritimes_02Jul11 26587_male_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11 20871_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_19Jun10
30603_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 21672_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10 32502_male_Alpes-Maritimes_2Jun13
33639_male_Alpes-Maritimes_9Jul13 35197_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_2Jun14 41302_male_Isère_11Jul16
7282_female_Alpes-Maritimes_24Jun07 16488_female_Var_22Jun09 20776_male_Var_14Jun10
   
30271_male_Alpes-Maritimes_2Jul12    

This is relatively easy to differentiate from its Pyrgus cousins because it is significantly larger and has broad, rounded wings. It has a charcoal-grey colouring when fresh and has pale hair at the wing bases to a greater extent than other Pyrgus species. It has a powerful, often easy to follow, flight. The upf marks are strong and clear white, often elongated, and the cell spot is often Σ-shaped.

From the upperside it could only be confused with the Yellow-banded Skipper (P. sidae), but their ranges do not overlap. The uph markings are quite characteristic, especially the sub-marginal discal series of often elongated discrete white streaks. The underside is also quite characteristic as the unh white margin is continuous along the whole of the wing, and no other Pyrgus has this, although Olive Skipper (P. serratulae) can sometimes be quite similar. It is a butterfly of medium to higher altitudes.
ref sex

observations

alt. m
26153 M a very fresh carthami, with a strong grey-brown ground colour and rather weaker white markings. 1400
26587 M very strong white markings especially on the uph. 1400
20871 M

classic carthami colouring and I suspect it may have only just emerged. The upf markings are quite small but the uph markings are strong and unmistakeable. 20776 is the underside of this specimen.

900
30603 M this male does not have the characteristic white contrasted uph markings expected of carthami, but the upf markings are fairly typical. 2020
21672 M

very strong and elongated upf marks.

1400
32502 M a rather brown individual, slightly unusual but well within the range for this species. 1080
33639 M a typically grey individual. 1600
35197 M a male, quite a dark and cold brown colour. 1000
41302 M a quite pale and strongly marked male taking salts from the damp ground. A Tufted Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus flocciferus) is also in shot. 1120
7282 F

the elongated upf marks point strongly toward carthami and the small uph submarginal dots are indicative of carthami, so I am inclined to go for carthami but comment is invited.

2100
16488 F

a female, I think clearly shown by the body shape. The upf white markings are quite strong, probably more so than the male, and the uph markings quite faint; as such it matches the illustration in T&L almost perfectly.

920
20776 M

the underside of 20871, showing the continuous white margin. This angle also shows the beautifully curved wing shape to good effect.

920
30271 M a male underside, the white markings being quite discrete on a sandy ground colour. The margin is continuous although narrow and not white and contrasted with the ground colour. 1400

 

26153_male_Alpes-Maritimes_02Jul11

 

26587_male_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11

 

20871_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_19Jun10

 

30603_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

21672_male_Alpes-Maritimes_7Jul10

 

32502_male_Alpes-Maritimes_2Jun13

 

33639_male_Alpes-Maritimes_9Jul13

 

35197_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_2Jun14

 

41302_male_Isère_11Jul16

 

7282_female_Alpes-Maritimes_24Jun07

 

16488_female_Var_22Jun09

 

20776_male_Var_14Jun10

 

30271_male_Alpes-Maritimes_2Jul12