Spanish Fritillary (Euphydryas desfontainii)

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2022 photographs highlighted in blue. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

49167_male_Aude_18May22 49120_female_Aude_17May22 49170_male_Aude_18May22 49113_female_Aude_17May22
A very scarce and extremely localised species in France, occurring only in the south-eastern Pyrénées. It may well have disappeared from its previously best known location, principally because, it is rumoured, a collector removed all of the eggs. It is also rather localised in its main localities in eastern Spain. 

Where I saw it, in the département of Aude, for the first time in 2022, it was flying in company with Marsh Fritillary (E. aurinia) of the form beckeri, a very red form of this species and, as such, very similar to desfontainii and very tricky to separate in flight.

2022 was a very early year for nearly all species everywhere and, whilst mid-May should be the ideal period for desfontainii, the few males I saw were clearly showing some degree of ageing and the one female I saw was fresh.

The images on this page were taken while the butterflies were nectaring actively on a 30C cloudless day, so all of the images are the best that could be achieved. I hope to revisit the site in 2023.

The sexes are superficially very similar, the female being rather larger, and the marginal lunules on both the upf and uph are larger in the female.

The undersides of both sexes are similar, with the marginal lunules of the female being rather larger than the male, mirroring the upperside. The unh of both sexes were very beige, especially the post-discal band, whereas the T&L illustration shows this band to be red and very similar to the underside of beckeri; this is one of the few cases where I feel T&L is not accurate.

T&L says that the subspecies that flies in the eastern Pyrénées is baetica.




alt. m



a male, showing some signs of wear.




a female, quite fresh.




a male underside, as can be seen from the body shape and end of the abdomen. It is considerably less marked than the image shown in T&L.




a female underside, as indicated by the body shape. It is more strongly marked than the male 49170, especially on the unf, but the unh is still very different to the unisex underside shown in T&L.