False Grayling

Arethusana arethusa


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Spain, July 2011



Spain, July 2011



Spain, July 2011



Spain, July 2011

Female, France, August 2008

Female, France, August 2008

Male, France, August 2008

Male, France, August 2008

Mating pair, France, August 2008

Female, France, August 2008

Arethusana arethusa distribution

Distribution

This interesting satyrid is widely distributed in southern Europe, where it flies in hot, dry and bushy places. It is almost entirely absent from Switzerland (and accessible parts of Italy) though, and I had never seen it until August 2008, when I visited Tim Cowles in France. There it is locally quite common and we saw it at several sites. In 2011, when my camping holiday in the Pyrenees was washed out by rain, I spent a couple of days in Aragón, where a found a few false graylings flying in rough patches of grassy or thorny land.

Unlike most graylings, the false grayling does occasionally rest with its upperside visible. This is rather dark, with orange markings vaguely recalling the Erebia group. The underside is notable for the pale band dividing the hindwing: this is not 'elbowed' as it is in graylings, but arcs more or less smoothly across the wing, with just a little zig-zagging near the costa. The veins are often lined white. This is apparently more striking in the S.E. Spain population,ssp. boabdil, which has an almost reticulate appearance.

The caterpillars - which hibernate - feed on grasses, including sheep's fescue and upright brome. This is a late species, flying from the end of July through to September - perhaps explaining why I didn't see any on a subsequent trip to Aragón, a little earlier in July.