Cardinal
Argynnis pandora

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Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, June 2016

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Male taking minerals, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, May 2015

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, July 2014

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, May 2014

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, May 2014

Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, May 2014



Male, Switzerland, August 2013



Male, Switzerland, August 2013



Male, Switzerland, August 2013

Argynnis pandora

Male, Switzerland, May 2014



Female, Switzerland, August 2013



Female, Switzerland, August 2013

Argynnis pandora

Female, Switzerland, July 2014



Female, Switzerland, September 2013



Female, Switzerland, September 2013



Female, Switzerland, August 2013



Female, Switzerland, August 2013



Female, Switzerland, August 2013



Female with a high brown fritillary, showing how huge this species is! Switzerland, September 2013



Female (on right) rejecting a male silver-washed fritillary, Switzerland, August 2013



Male, Switzerland, August 2013



Female, Switzerland, August 2013



Male, Switzerland, August 2013

Female, Switzerland, May 2005 (this individual was the first cardinal recorded in Switzerland since 1947!)



Male, Switzerland, August 2013



Male, Switzerland, August 2013



Male, Switzerland, August 2013

The cardinal is allegedly widespread in southern Europe, though I have obviously never been in the right place at the right time. In 2005 I found my first one quite by surprise in the Rhône Valley of Switzerland when I was looking for iolas blues. I was excited to find it but didn't realise then quite what a rare event this was: the last cardinal recorded for Switzerland was way back in 1947! That was in 2005. In 2012 another was seen by another observer in almost exactly the same place. In June 2013 a third individual was photographed a kilometre or so away, and then in August 2013 I stumbled across what seemed to be a colony of them, though at that point it remained possible they were all that year's immigrants. The presence of cardinals on the site from 4th May 2014 confirmed that this is indeed a local colony. In 2015 the species was still thriving there.

This butterfly is superficially like a silver-washed fritillary but much of the upperside, especially on the hindwings, is suffused with a rather reflective, olive green colour, visible even in flight, and there is a striking rosy red flush under the forewing. If you get a look at the underside there is little possibility of misidentification. The males are noticeably bigger than male silver-washed fritillaries and grander in flight, making them stand out rather obviously from their cousins. They also have just two androconial bands on the forewings, rather than three - a useful thing to know if you have a poor upperside view of a worn butterfly.