Red Underwing Skipper (Spialia sertorius)

next page          back to list

2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

24391_male_Var_24Apr11 14925_male_Var_06May09 29168_male_Alpes-Maritimes_12May12
33219_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_1Jul13 34610_male_Var_1May14

36184_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14

38176_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15 34609_female_Var_29Apr14 26581_female_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11
11875_female_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jul08 10546_male_Var_15May08 24385_male_Var_24Apr11
   
32991_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_19Jun13    

A delightful little skipper. It is somewhat smaller than most Pyrgus species (which look similar, even though sertorius is not of the Pyrgus genus) and can be difficult to follow in flight, although it rarely travels far and helpfully often returns to the same spot. It is quite hard to approach for a close-up - and because it is so small, you need to be close - and it is usually off before you can get near enough.

It is quite common, one or two occurring in most localities, but rarely in large numbers. It often seems to have moth-shaped wings, with pronounced "shoulders" and an uph discal mark that is a clear white line, although these features do not appear in the T&L illustrations. It sometimes seems to have a purple-brown tinge, especially when fresh. The underside shows why it has its name, even though the interpretation of "red" is somewhat subject to variation.

ref

sex

observations

alt. m

24391

M

a male in typical territory-defending pose. The underside is 24385.

220

14925

M

a male, as indicated by the length of the abdomen and the abdominal hair tuft, with a rather warmer brown colour than normal.

220

29168 M a rather heavily marked male. 900
33219 M a rather fresh male in a rather unusual pose with the wings extended and the body in contact with the stone, perhaps to absorb the heat at the end of the day. 1250
34610 M a fairly typical male. 220
36184 M a fairly typical male, included here as it was seen at an altitude of 2020m in the Hautes-Alpes 2020
38176 M a quite strongly marked male puddling in company with several Safflower Skippers (P. carthami). 2020
34609 F a fairly typical female. 140

26581

F

a female, I think, for much the same reasons as 11875.

1400

11875

F

I originally thought this was a male, based on its puddling-type behaviour, but the body shape does look rather female and I think it must be a female taking moisture from the ground. There is very little difference in the upperside markings of both sexes.

1400

10546

M

a less-frequently seen view of the underside, showing the unmistakeable pattern and the beautiful rich red-brown colouring that gives it its name.

140

24385

M

another underside, a completely different colour to 10546 being much redder, almost plum-coloured. I suspect 24385 is the exception here, although the underside is so rarely seen unless roosting. The upperside is 24391.

220

32991 M a similar underside to 24385 in terms of colouring, although not quite as red. 1000

 

24391_male_Var_24Apr11

 

14925_male_Var_06May09

 

29168_male_Alpes-Maritimes_12May12

 

33219_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_1Jul13

 

34610_male_Var_1May14

 

36184_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul14

 

38176_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul15

 

34609_female_Var_29Apr14

 

26581_female_Alpes-Maritimes_08Jul11

 

11875_female_Alpes-Maritimes_1Jul08

 

10546_male_Var_15May08

 

24385_male_Var_24Apr11

 

32991_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_19Jun13