Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina)
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2022 photographs highlighted in blue. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
An intriguing butterfly, rather similar to its cousin, the Southern Festoon (Z. polyxena), with which it shares the same larval hostplant species Aristolochia (common name: Birthwort, or some species of Birthwort). Rumina uses A. pistolochia (see 32227) in my experience, whereas polyxena uses A. rotunda. Rumina has a European distribution limited to the Iberian peninsula (hence the English name) and extending east to southern France; polyxena has an easterly distribution extending west into Provence. The département of Var and the surrounding region is where they overlap and both can be seen.
In 2006 I found them in small numbers, often just singles, in a variety of locations, but in 2007 and 2008 did not see quite as many. 2009 to 2011 seemed slightly better years, so maybe the numbers fluctuate from year to year. However, in 2013, they enjoyed a very good year, the best I have ever seen in Var, and an extended flight period well into June; on one occasion I counted 25 or more at a single location. It is an early season butterfly, single-brooded with a flight period of April-May, but tends to emerge slightly later than polyxena and stay on the wing until the third week in May.
The subspecies medesicaste, with increased red markings on the hindwing submargins and in the hindwing basal area, is supposedly common, and may well be the predominant subspecies in southern France.
There is a very rare form honnoratii which has extended uph post-discal red marks, but I do not believe that this form has been seen for many decades with the last "official" sighting (In France, at least) being in 1991.
|a male, almost fresh, but with slightly limited red in the upf cell area.
|a male on the basis of the limited markings on the body. It is almost perfectly fresh and shows how the red just jumps off the wings. Rumina at its best.
|a reasonably fresh specimen, but not freshly emerged, having lost some scales.
|a male, with rather pale red markings that seem natural and not a result of ageing as there is not much evidence of ageing elsewhere on the scales.
almost impossible to tell which sex. This must be quite a fresh specimen as there seems little scale loss.
a fresher specimen, with the deep red contrasting nicely with the black.
|another example of this highly photogenic species. It appears to be identical to 34685 but there are some subtle differences, and it was from a different location. Possibly a male based on the rather weaker body markings.
|I suspect this is a female based on the slightly stronger body markings. It provides a good example of butterflies as pollinators, as its head is covered in pollen.
|possibly a male based on the rather weaker body markings.
|rather yellower than most, very fresh, although the background doesn't show it off to best effect.
|a female, I believe, with the red marks rather pinkish.
|another mating pair. This is quite a common sight within the breeding grounds of this species.
|a mating pair. I suspect the female is above, based on visible body shape.
|a mating pair. It is probably the female above, as usually seems to be the case.
|a female underside, resting in between sessions of egg-laying.
|an underside shot, not very often seen.
|Possibly a male based on the body shape and end of the abdomen.
|the larval hostplant Aristolochia pistolochia. It is a low-growing plant reaching about 25cm height at the most. It is quite common in Var although inconspicuous and easily overlooked. Rumina never wanders far from the hostplant and it is often the case that when rumina is seen, pistolochia can usually be found nearby. See also the polyxena page.