Provençal Fritillary (Melitaea deione)
2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
After looking at a lot of Heath (M. athalia), Meadow (M. parthenoides) and Provençal Fritillaries I think I may be able to tell them apart, but I’m sometimes less than 100% sure. The deione male upperside ground colour is clear orange-yellow with thin black markings, consistent in the male, but the female usually (always?) has adjacent paler bands giving a colour contrast, clearly visible in 10439. However, female athalia (34319 on the athalia page, perhaps) sometimes has similar bands, so the presence of such bands cannot be taken as conclusive evidence of deione.
One characteristic, often quoted as definitive, is the upf discal mark in s1 which is a broad "H" shape, although the bridge of the H can very thin or vestigial or even absent, and this can be accentuated by wear. It can be said that if it does have it, it confirms deione rather than athalia.
The underside of the extremity of the palpi are orange, as compared to athalia. This is (just about) visible on the enlarged photograph of 44630 - compare with some of the athalia underside images. The underside has a reddish feel to it, often with a clear reddish filling in each unh post-discal space.
This species was sometimes previously known as Mellicta dejone. In the new European taxonomy, the erstwhile Mellicta group are now included in the Melitaea genus. The undersides of the Mellicta species were very similar so in some circumstances it is convenient to refer to the ex-Mellicta group.
a male, in typical territorial pose.
an unusual opportunity to compare the two uppersides, the female being on the left. The male is more typical of the strong orange-red colouring than 10475.
a shot of courtship, the female above, I think.
a typical female, showing the unmistakeable colour contrast that leaves little room for doubt that it is deione.
|a female, rather less orange than normal, but the colour contrast between the bands is clear. It was being courted by a male athalia, just to demonstrate that the butterflies themselves have identification difficulties from time to time. The female deione had no problem as it rejected the advance.
|a second generation female, the contrast between the bands being less than the first generation, but whether this is a generational change is not clear.
|a male underside, photographed on the move. The extremity of the palpi can be seen to be orange and the underside generally has a reddish feel to it. The shading around the unf s2 lunule is quite light, a clear indicator that it is not athalia, if one were needed.
|a mating pair, female above.