Large Chequered Skipper (Heteropterus morpheus)

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2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

2787_male_Italy_17Jul06 48041_male_Cher_1Jul21 99-01_female_Gironde_Jul99

A strange butterfly, even by skipper standards. It has a very unusual underside as can be seen from 2787 and 48041 and a rather drab but rarely-seen upperside (99-01), as it usually settles with its wings closed.

It has a characteristic bouncing flight, in which it seems to have difficulty getting off the ground, such that it can’t be mistaken in flight for anything else. In France it has a very western distribution where I have seen it near Bordeaux and in the French Pyrénées. It does not fly in the PACA region, or anywhere near, which explains the paucity of photographs on this page.
ref sex


alt. m
2787 M

a male underside, as indicated by the hair tuft at the end of the abdomen. The photograph was taken in Italy, west of Lake Garda. As it only occurs in a small area in Italy, I was probably fortunate to find it there.

48041 M in the strange year of 2021, travelling south to the Pyrénées, I arranged for a stop in western central France at a known location for morpheus (thank you Dave P). It was clearly right at the start of the flight season as only two males were flying there (as far as I could see) and they were both immaculately fresh and taking salts from the ground at a roadside spot, salts, it would appear donated by humans. So, thank you to those humans for this rare opportunity to see and photograph this bizarre, unique and very appealing butterfly. 170
99-01 F

the only time I have seen the upperside.