Dusky Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus cacaliae)
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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.
Cacaliae is a high altitude species. The minimum altitude range stated by Lafranchis is 1500m but in my experience it is found considerably higher than this. It appears to often fly in company with the Alpine Grizzled Skipper (P. andromedae).
The absence of the upf discal spot in s2 is often quoted as the differentiator between cacaliae and andromedae (which has this spot), but there seems to me to be more fundamental differences in terms of the size and strength of the upf white markings.
It is a slightly larger Pyrgus than the norm for this genus, with a characteristic grey-brown upperside colouring, small discrete white upf spots and an unmarked uph. The key to this species seems to be that none of the spots are large. It also has a rather dusky appearance, especially when fresh, hence the name. The unh marks are also characteristic, especially the elongated mark in basal s1 and the discal s1 mark which together resemble an exclamation mark. This is also true for andromedae, but the ground colour and the slight difference in the shapes of these markings enables the two species to be separated.
a very typical cacaliae, very lightly marked in a way such that it really cannot be anything else.
|I originally thought this was alveus, maybe something about the wing shape being rather wide and slightly narrow suggested alveus, and the uph markings looked a little too strong for cacaliae. The upf markings, although small and well within the range for cacaliae, looked to be more like vestigial versions of larger marks rather than the small and discrete (by design) marks of cacaliae. However, on balance I feel it is more likely to be cacaliae.
|a typical male cacaliae.
|a male, with rather larger spots than average, at the top end of the range for this species.
|a mating pair, the male opening up in this shot. 45351 is the same pair, with the female opening up.
|a female, rather lighter than the other females on this page, perhaps due to wear as the date is later than most on this page.
|a female, as indicated by the body shape and end of the abdomen.
|the same mating pair as 45343, with the female opening up in this shot. Mating pairs are often quite mobile and it is then possible to get clear shot of both butterflies.
|a female, showing that the number and size of white marks is almost identical to the male. 36093 is the underside.
|a female, quite a light brown ground colour, but the markings are very typical for cacaliae, and this specimen was noticeably large when seen in the field.
|a male underside. The relatively light brown colour makes it distinct from andromedae, with which it often flies in company.
|a female underside, 36083 being the upperside. The colouring is rather paler and more delicate than might be expected, and the unh basal mark in s1 is rather weak.