Large Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus alveus)

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2019 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

27136_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11 21770_male_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jul10 21800_male_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jul10
22250_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul10 33515_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul13 23332_male_Vaud, Switzerland_27Jul10
30612_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12 36201_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul14 46339_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_8Jul19
46348_female_Hautes-Pyrénées_10Jul19 27481_male_Isère_18Jul11 22837_male_Isère_19Jul10

The upperside ground colour of the nominate form of alveus is usually a dark grey-brown sometimes with a yellowish flush, with smallish white marks on the upf, especially in the cell, and very weak marks on the uph. The unh has no particular distinguishing features, the discal marks in s2 and s3 being quite small, but this is not unique to alveus. It is perhaps the most difficult of the French Pyrgus species to identify with any degree of confidence, and I have included some on this page that I am not at all confident are alveus in order to invite comment. It usually seems to be a case of the "balance of probabilities" rather than "beyond reasonable doubt".

 

The Lafranchis ID book simply says that the uph marks are dull, which is hardly a unique differentiator. The unh ground colour is olive brown. Alveus is a relatively large Pyrgus, but only slightly larger than most of its cousins, so identification may be based more on this rather than analysis of the photograph. It has a wide altitude range, from 0 to 2100m and flies in June-August.

The subspecies accretus (also, but now largely historically, called centralhispaniae or centralitaliae) is completely different to the nominate form P. a. alveus in that the upf white marks are very well-defined and the uph marks are strong and well-contrasted. The undersides of nominate alveus and accretus appear to be very similar as far as I can ascertain. Accretus flies in south-west Europe including, as its alternative names imply, central Spain and Italy. There seems to be very little information available of the exact distribution of accretus and its relationship to alveus, particularly in respect of whether it can be considered as a separate species.

 

With regard to accretus in the Pyrénées, see also the general and species-specific comments on the Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus armoricanus) page.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
27136 M the rather cold, slightly greyish, brown ground colour is indicative of alveus. The pale and whitish markings on both upf and uph are quite strong by alveus standards. The blue to the left is a Glandon Blue (P. glandon). 2010
21770 M

this male matches the illustration in T&L perfectly for the subspecies accretus (centralhispaniae).

1800
21800 M

this is a rather colder grey-brown colour than average. The cell spot is not sufficiently well-defined to suggest other species, nor is it outwardly concave which would suggest the Carline Skipper (P. carlinae).

1800
22250 M

I suspect this may be a male from the body length. I had some doubts as to whether this is actually alveus; the upf marks are rather strong, and the cell spot has just a suggestion of external concavity which might suggest carlinae, but having seen the underside, this clearly rules out carlinae.

2040
33515 M a very fresh specimen, very typical for alveus, except that the upf markings are slightly strong. 2010
23332 M

I am fairly certain that this is a male alveus as I also have an underside shot and it was ID'd with certainty by a local expert. The upperside markings are just about spot-on for alveus and I recall that it was a large Pyrgus.

1120
30612 M a typical male alveus, the upf cell spot being perhaps a little heavier than the norm for this species. 2020
36201 M a fresh male, lightly marked and with a nice sandy basal dusting. 2020
46339 M a fresh male with a particularly pale sandy flush, especially in the upf basal region. The markings are at about the upper limit of strength for alveus and even the uph discal mark is well contrasted, albeit quite yellow-brown, by the standards of this species. 1700
46348 F a female, something of a rarity in my experience. It was from the same location as 46339 and had the same sandy flush, rather more yellowish, with weaker markings which is usually (but not always) the case for Pyrgus females. 1700
27481 M a rather typical alveus unh. A clear view of the upperside enabled confirmation of alveus. 2160
22837 M

the unh marks here all point to alveus. The discal s2/3 are completely empty, ruling out armoricanus. Basal s7 is rather rounded suggesting carlinae but the marginal mark on v5 is not sufficiently large or well defined, and the altitude is some way below the normal range for carlinae.

1120

 

27136_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul11

 

21770_male_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jul10

 

21800_male_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jul10

 

22250_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul10

 

33515_male_Hautes-Alpes_8Jul13

 

23332_male_Vaud, Switzerland_27Jul10

 

30612_male_Hautes-Alpes_6Jul12

 

36201_male_Hautes-Alpes_15Jul14

 

46339_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_8Jul19

 

46348_female_Hautes-Pyrénées_10Jul19

 

27481_male_Isère_18Jul11

 

22837_male_Isère_19Jul10