Foulquier's Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus foulquieri)

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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.

37958_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun15 44331_male_Var_16Jul17 44701_male_Alpes-Maritimes_20Jul17
44686_female_Alpes-Maritimes_19Jul17 44706_female_Alpes-Maritimes_20Jul17 44691_male_Alpes-Maritimes_19Jul17
 
44736_male_Alpes-Maritimes_20Jul17 37959_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun15  

This is rather uncommon Pyrgus of south-eastern France, with isolated localities in Spain and Italy (where it occurs as the subspecies picenus). It is quite a large Pyrgus and the male upperside is well marked with strong white markings especially on the forewing, where the marks are usually jagged at the edges. The female is less strongly marked, I believe, although neither of the Lafranchis books has an illustration of the female. T&L does have an illustration of the female but this appears to only slightly less strongly marked than the male, whereas all of the photographs of female foulquieri (that can be trusted to be such) have much weaker markings that are slightly jagged. H&R does state that the female markings are smaller and that it has a yellowish reflection. 44706 answers some of those questions.

 

The key identifier for the male is that it has a tuft of white hairs at the end of the abdomen, extending to just below the lower part of the abdomen. This is quoted as the key differentiator of foulquieri from the subspecies of Large Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus alveus accretus) which it resembles in terms of markings, but whether it serves to differentiate foulquieri from other Pyrgus species is unclear.

The other key, as it seems to me, is that the unh discal s1 mark is particularly large, much more so than for other Pyrgus with which it could be confused; this, together with the large size, seems to be a key to conforming foulquieri. The unh ground colour is said to be yellow-brown although Matt Rowlings refers to a greenish underside.

I am fairly sure I had seen a male in 2003 and have a rather poor photograph but did not realise at the time that the end of the abdomen was the key. I waited rather a long time - until 2015 - for a second opportunity. It is a species that appears to emerge in mid-July and my travels to potential foulquieri sites had always been much earlier in the month, so in 2017 I arranged to visit these sites in mid-July and was not disappointed.

This species was originally known as Pyrgus foulquieri, changed to P. bellieri in 2010 and changed back again to P. foulquieri in 2016.

ref

sex

observations

alt. m

37958

M

a male, which seems to tick all the boxes for foulquieri, especially the jagged upf white marks. I was granted a brief view at the same location where I had previously seen this species in 2003, and managed to get an upperside shot.

1000

44331 M a male puddling, unusually, in very muddy water-hole, as puddling butterflies are usually very careful not to have anything attaching to their feet, presumably because it might make flight difficult or at least make it difficult to escape predators. It has a very strong upf basal yellowish sandy flush. 680
44701 M a male, missing a piece of hindwing but nonetheless showing the classic marks of male foulquieri. It also has a mild yellowish upf basal flush, although not to the same extent as 44331. 1000
44686 F I believe this to be foulquieri based on the view of the underside that showed the large discal s1 mark, but from what can be seen of the upf markings, it would be very untypical for male foulquieri and I therefore conclude that it must be a female, even though I do not have a shot showing the end of the abdomen. 1000
44706 F a definitive female foulquieri, showing, on the basis of this specimen, that the markings are considerably lighter than the male, and not in any way jagged. It also shows the rather sandy flush across the whole of the upperside. 1000
44691 M a male underside, clearly showing the extensive hair tuft at the end of the abdomen. The defining feature is the very large discal s1 mark, which appears to be constant for this species. 1000
44736 M another male underside, also showing the hair tuft. The discal s1 mark is large, although not quite as large as in 44691, but still noticeably larger than other Pyrgus species. The shot was taken in shady conditions, so it appears darker than it actually was. 1000

37959

M

this is the underside of 37958. It was disturbed on the ground by another butterfly and flew off, settling briefly to allow an underside shot of sorts. It just about shows the extensive white hair tuft at the base of the end of the abdomen, the key identifying feature of foulquieri, although the upperside markings of fresh specimens are almost conclusive on their own. The underside shot also shows the exceptionally large (relative to other Pyrgus) mark in discal s1.

1000

 

37958_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun15

 

44331_male_Var_16Jul17

 

44701_male_Alpes-Maritimes_20Jul17

 

44686_female_Alpes-Maritimes_19Jul17

 

44706_female_Alpes-Maritimes_20Jul17

 

44691_male_Alpes-Maritimes_19Jul17

 

44736_male_Alpes-Maritimes_20Jul17

 

37959_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun15