False Mnestra Ringlet (Erebia aethiopella)
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2021 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
A small and rather uncommon Erebia of high altitudes. It is unusual in that it is the only butterfly solely endemic to the southern Alpes. With the benefit of an upperside and an underside shot, it can be identified with some degree of certainty from its close cousins.
I chanced upon it for the first time in 2010, two males in
a high damp gulley in the Hautes-Alpes. In 2011 I found it in three locations,
two being over 2350m, and since then in several other locations in the region,
and gave concluded that it is widespread within its limited region. The lower end of its altitude range is
In 2019 this species was reclassified as Erebia aethiopellus. I'll give it a few years before changing the web page (and all the occurrences and links associated) as it is entirely possible that the taxonomists will change it again.
|26995||M||a male, posing very obligingly.||2010|
a male, taking a break from taking salts from some indeterminate substance to enjoy some sun and very thoughtfully posing open for the camera.
|33486||M||a male. I am coming to the conclusion that this pose is relatively normal for this species.||2010|
|46782||M||a male, in classically photographer-friendly pose. I did wonder whether the body shape suggested female, but there were two clues that said otherwise: the ocelli are blind (no white centres) and very weak, whereas the female ocelli are larger. I say this, having never knowingly seen a female, relying on the T&L illustration and the fact that larger female ocelli are normal in most, if not all, Erebia species. The second, and definitive clue, is that 46783 is the underside and consistently dark with little contrast across the discal line whereas the female post-discal area is much lighter giving strong contrast across the discal line.||2550|
|46783||M||a male, the underside of 46782.||2550|
a male, taking salts from some unhealthy-looking crotte. The unh post-discal band is virtually non-existent c.f. 22003 and the illustration in T&L where this band is quite clearly contrasted.
a male, not the same as 21930 as can be seen from the rather stronger unh post-discal band here. A Grisons Fritillary (Melitaea varia) can just be seen on the left.
|30779||M||a male settling in dull weather with the forewing tucked down. The unh is typically rather speckled and the discal line is clear with the post-discal band being better defined (relatively) than many other individuals.||2550|