Cynthia's Fritillary (Euphydryas cynthia)

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2019 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

27203_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11 38027_male_Alpes-Maritimes_30Jun15 27250_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11
30692_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 30732_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 46651_male_Alpes-Maritimes_17Jul19
46713_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19 46733_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19 46738_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19
46815_male_Hautes-Alpes_21Jul19 46709_female_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19 27257_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11
27279_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11 38010_male_Alpes-Maritimes_30Jun15 30622_female_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12
A fabulous and rather iconic butterfly of high altitudes. It is unusual in that the male has numerous and rather variable white and red markings whereas the female tends to follow the rather duller pattern of Euphydryas females.

It is quite an early emerger for such a high altitude species, as the rather worn males (from mid-July) show. It should be noted that reasonably fresh males seen in the third week of July 2019 were as a result of 2019 being an exceptionally late year.

I first saw cynthia in 2010 at 2100m, a single male that did not wait for a photograph. In 2011 I chanced upon quite a large colony at over 2500m and it seems, from all accounts, that this species is generally found above 2300m. In 2012 at the same location it was reasonably plentiful on warm sunny days but nowhere to be seen on cooler days.

At this location the males were only seen at altitudes of 2500m and above, together with some females, although at 2000m only females were found.

ref

sex

observations

alt. m

27203

M a rather worn male, with faded red patches in the upf cell and in the uph discal region.

2550

38027 M a much fresher, and therefore darker, male. 38010 is the underside. 2360

27238

M

a male, the uph post-discal band being particularly orange.

2550

27250

M

a male, posing nicely but with no apparent trace of red in the upf cell or uph post-discal region. Whether such patches ever existed and have been lost through wear, is impossible to say.

2550

30692 M a male, basking on a dried cow pat. 2550
30732 M a male, adopting a rather moth-like pose (c.f. the same pose often exhibited by cynthia's Euphydryas cousin, the Marsh Fritillary (E. aurinia.) 2550
46651 M a male nectaring on some species of what I believe to be a yellow daisy, but have not been able to identify. It seems to me that when cynthia nectars, it prefers yellow flowers. 2360
46713 M a male nectaring on Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis). 2550
46733 M a slightly worn male, with forewings extended to show the extensive strips of white on the uph. 2550
46738 M a male, sitting with open wings on vegetation in a sheltered gulley, which is what cynthia seems to spend most of its time doing. 2550
46815 M a male, taking the warmth from a rock in a cloudy spell. There was, as is often the case, a blade of grass obscuring the photo which I snipped with a pair of small scissors. As can be seen, the blade of grass dropped perilously close to the subject but did not cause it to fly off. 2550
46709 F a female, showing signs of wear, unusually in that the males mostly looked fresh on the same date. 2550

27257

F a rather worn female.

2550

27279

F

a fresh female, with a slight deformity in the left forewing.

2550

38010 M a male underside, not a clean shot, but the best male underside I have to date. 38027 is the upperside. 2360
30622 F a female underside, seen at the lower altitude of 2020m. 2020

 

27203_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

 

38027_male_Alpes-Maritimes_30Jun15

 

27250_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11

 

30692_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

30732_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

46651_male_Alpes-Maritimes_17Jul19

 

46713_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19

 

46733_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19

 

46738_male_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19

 

46815_male_Hautes-Alpes_21Jul19

 

46709_female_Hautes-Alpes_20Jul19

 

27257_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11

 

27279_female_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul11

 

38010_male_Alpes-Maritimes_30Jun15

 

30622_female_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12