Iberian Marbled White (Melanargia lachesis)

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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.

20666_male?_Gard_12Jun10 25889_male_Gard_20Jun11 43583_male_Gard_30Jun17
48448_male_Pyrénées-Orientales_13Jul21 43595_female_Gard_30Jun17 25873_male_Gard_20Jun11
38405_male_Gard_11Jul15 48392_male?_Pyrénées-Orientales_12Jul21 48416_female?_Pyrénées-Orientales_13Jul21
25800_female_Gard_19Jun11 25811_female_Gard_19Jun11 25842_female_Gard_20Jun11

A principally Iberian species whose distribution extends eastwards along the southern areas of France, to about Avignon. I first saw lachesis in 2010 near Nîmes at a location I had been told about, and was at about the furthest eastern end of its distribution. There were maybe ten flying there, in company with the Marbled White (M. galathea) from which it is easily distinguishable because of the increased whiteness of lachesis both on the upperside and underside.

It seemed rather nervous and difficult to approach, but maybe these were freshly emerged, at the start of their flight period, and just highly active.

 

Revisiting the site in 2011, lachesis was flying in good numbers, counted in hundreds, but, curiously, galathea was not present. In 2015 a further visit to the same site in mid-July on a day when it was 37C (and still 36C at 20.00) only about ten butterflies were seen in total and they were all hiding in the shade. Only 38405 ventured out to do a bit of nectaring. On passing through the same site in 2017, lachesis was encouragingly still present in good numbers, and the intermittent cloudy spells afforded an opportunity to get some upperside shots.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
20666 M

this may well be a male based on its pose and slightly closer match to the markings as shown in T&L (not always a good method of determining sex).

60
25889 M This is clearly a male based on body shape. Its strange behaviour on the ground is explained by the fact that it had been in the clutches of a crab spider from which I rescued it. It appeared unharmed when I placed it on the ground, but it soon transpired that the poison had already taken effect and a minute or two later it was dead. 60
43583 M a male, I believe, mainly on the basis of the slightly lighter markings in the upf discal area, and the purer white colouring. 60
48448 M a male, based on body shape. I suspect it had just emerged as the wings appeared soft and the pose suggested a wing-drying position. 1590
43595 F a female on the basis of the body shape, the heavier upf discal markings and the slightly yellow tinge to the white. 60
25873 M a male underside, very white by contrast with the creamy-yellow females. 60
38405 M a male, toward the end of the flight period as the wing damage testifies. 60
48392 M? a higher altitude male, probably a male based on the whiteness of the underside, whereas the female (see 48416 below) often has a slight yellowish tinge. 1360
48416 F? the yellowish tinge here appears to suggest that 48416 is a female. it looks like an aberration but in fact a large section of the hindwing is missing. 1590
25800 F a female underside, a delicate pale beige. 60
25811 F a female underside, very faintly marked and washed over beige. 60
25842 F a female, the discal markings in the cell region being distinctly different to the others on this page where the discal line reduces to a single thin line. 60

 

20666_male?_Gard_12Jun10

 

25889_male_Gard_20Jun11

 

43583_male_Gard_30Jun17

 

48448_male_Pyrénées-Orientales_13Jul21

 

43595_female_Gard_30Jun17

 

25873_male_Gard_20Jun11

 

38405_male_Gard_11Jul15

 

48392_male?_Pyrénées-Orientales_12Jul21

 

48416_female?_Pyrénées-Orientales_13Jul21

 

25800_female_Gard_19Jun11

 

25811_female_Gard_19Jun11

 

25842_female_Gard_20Jun11