Dusky Meadow Brown

Hyponephele lycaon


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Hyponephele lycaon

Male, Switzerland, June 2018

Hyponephele lycaon

Male, Italy, July 2018

Hyponephele lycaon

Female, Italy, July 2014

Hyponephele lycaon

Female, Italy, July 2015

Hyponephele lycaon

Female, Italy, July 2015

Hyponephele lycaon

Glimpse of the upperside of a male, showing the blind apical ocellus, Italy, July 2018



Switzerland, July 2012

Female, Switzerland, July 2006

Female, Switzerland, July 2006

Female, Switzerland, July 2006

Male, Switzerland, July 2006

Female, Switzerland, July 2006

Male (I think), Switzerland, July 2006

Hyponephele lyaon distribution

Distribution - populations are very scattered in parts of this distribution, so the map gives a misleading impression

The dusky meadow brown flies in hot, grassy, rocky places, and where found may be very numerous, gathering in groups on nectar sources just like its relative, the meadow brown. In my experience, however, it is quite local, and is absent from many seemingly suitable places within its range. It usually comes on the wing a little later than the meadow brown and stops flying earlier, making it a creature of the hottest part of the year.

Separation from the meadow brown is usually easy. It is on average slightly smaller and never - ever - settles with the uppersides of the wings showing. Therefore, as soon as a butterfly spreads its wings a moment to bask, you know it is not this. The female has two eyespots on the forewing underside, though the lower one is only visible when the forewing is held up and not dropped below the hindwing. When visible, the second eye is definitive. The male has just one eyespot beneath the forewing. Both sexes have a dark line bordering the grey submarginal region of the forewing underside, separating this from the orange interior. This line is usually distinct and is much less marked in the meadow brown. Much more similar to the dusky meadow brown is the oriental meadow brown (which despite its name is found in Iberia and the south of France as well as south-eastern Europe). If a male upperside is glimpsed or photographed (for example, by fliming a butterfly taking off), the narrow sex brand of the dusky meadow brown, disrupted at the veins, is distinctive. Otherwise, identification is tricky. The oriental meadow brown is said to have more scalloped hindwings, but looking at photographs (I have yet to see the species in the flesh) I find this an unreliable feature. Dusky meadow browns sometimes have distinctly scalloped hindwings.

Larval foodplants are grasses, including fescues and brome grasses. It is the caterpillars which hibernate, the adult butterflies flying in a single generation from June to August.