Yellow-banded Skipper (Pyrgus sidae)
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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.
A charming, above-average sized Pyrgus with a very distinctive underside. It is said to be very localised, but I have found it quite widespread in Var in lowland areas (it does not seem to occur at altitude, unlike most of its Pyrgus cousins), where its larval hostplant, Potentilla hirta, grows, and it seems to be very closely tied to the hostplant. In France, it only occurs in the far south-east.
It is an early season (May) butterfly, and appears to be single brooded. It is quite large compared to other Pyrgus (you have to have seen a few for this to be obvious) and the uph is quite strongly and characteristically marked with a row of white submarginal splashes (sometimes the uph markings looking like a series of exclamation marks) which could only be confused with Safflower Skipper (P. carthami). Also, notwithstanding the distinct yellow colouring, the pattern of the unh markings is quite similar to carthami.
It gets its name from the very distinctive underside, which is completely unlike any other Pyrgus, although it doesn't often sit with wings closed unless roosting. The subspecies occiduus flies in Provence, differing from the nominate form which only occurs from the Balkans eastwards, in that the yellow bands are somewhat paler, and the ups marks are less developed. However, this does not seem to accord with 0529 or 25008, in that the unh bands are quite a strong yellow and sharply outlined in black; 10888 is rather closer to the book description of occiduus, but I am not sure if this is due to wear or ageing, or just naturally pale. I need to see more sidae undersides before suggesting that either form is the norm in Var.
A superb video of the life-cycle of sidae has been produced by Filming VarWild and can be viewed on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl8otnXOuhg&t=629s
|24612||M||a male, as indicated by the abdominal hair tuft. The upf is lightly marked for male sidae although the uph submarginal series is very strong.||220|
slightly stronger brown and with paler uph markings.
|42557||M||a very typical male, difficult to photograph as it hopped from daisy to daisy.||140|
|45116||M||a rather cold grey-brown ground colour and very heavy markings, rather untypical of this species.||220|
|45124||M||by contrast with 45116, which was flying at the same time in the same location, 45124 is a rather warm deep brown colour.||220|
slightly paler than the male but having the same characteristic markings.
|34761||F||a female which was in the process of egg-laying on this Potentilla species.||220|
|34601||M||a male, originally just a record shot, but it rather nicely shows the boldness of the markings and strong yellow colouring of the band.||140|
I doubt that this is occiduus as the yellow bands are very strong and the borders black and strong.
rather paler yellow (see comments above) and very likely a good example of the subspecies occiduus.
|40450||M||a typical sidae underside yellow colour, although they are not often seen with closed wings.||220|
|25008||PR||a mating pair, the female being on the left. As is nearly always the case with mating pairs (of almost any species) the female is almost pristine and the male is worn and battered, being several days older and having engaged in territorial disputes.||340|