Woodland Brown (Lopinga achine)

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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.

15901_male_Côte-d'Or_05Jun09 37574_female_Côte-d'Or_12Jun15 15945_male_Côte-d'Or_05Jun09 40676_male_Rhône_28May16
42855_male_Rhône_25May17 43258_female_Rhône_03Jun17    

A beautifully marked and rather rare butterfly. I first saw achine at this one location in Côte-d'Or, central France, in late June 2007, a single tired and worn female, probably the last of the colony. I revisited the site again in early June 2008 and was rewarded with several fresh achine flying, not to mention a couple of Scarce Fritillaries (Euphydryas maturna).


It is a very nervous butterfly, remarkably difficult to approach for a photograph, as these distance shots testify; any closer and it is off very quickly. The underside is magnificent, as can just about be seen from 15945  and 40676 below. In 2009 it was present in good numbers at this same site, but not present in mid-June 2010, perhaps the flight period being over by then.

In 2015 I visited a site in the Rhône département where some 70 or more achine were flying but they were so active, even early in the morning, that photography was impossible. However, a trip a few days later to a site in Côte-d'Or searching for maturna (which we did not see), there were still a few unexpected achine still flying there. 37574 very kindly posed for the camera in overcast conditions.

In 2016 I revisited the Rhône location at the end of May, which should have been ideal timing, except that 2016 was a rather late year and achine was only just starting to emerge on 28 May. We saw several very fresh but even more nervous males, hence 40676 as a distance shot being the nearest we could get. Contrast this with 2017, when a visit to the same site revealed an achine count of over one hundred, not that photography was any easier.

It has a habit, unique among all butterfly species in my experience, of flying into the dense trees and bushes and rarely settling at less than 2-3m above the ground. A good photograph of the underside of this fabulous butterfly is still at the top of my wish list for the future.

ref sex


alt. m
15901 M

a rather worn male.

35754 F a female, very much at the end of the flight period, but photographic opportunities are so infrequent with this species, that anything gets included. 370
15945 M

I had this down as a male, possibly based on behaviour, although the extent of the unh white markings matches the illustration of the female in T&L rather better than the male. The sexes are so similar that maybe this is not a reliable pointer, though.

40676 M a male, as mentioned in the narrative, the nearest we could get to this early emerger. 180
42855 M a beautifully marked fresh male, taking salts from the droppings of a wild animal that I am not able to identify. It was a rare opportunity to get a close shot, but even on approaching very gently, it was still enough to spook the subject and, despite considerable patience, it did not return. 180
43258 F a female, photographed at the same site only a week or so later, but already showing some fading, even for a female given that they tend to emerge later than the males.  180