Female ovipositing, Val d'Aran, July 2001 (video frame)
The Gavarnie ringlet is a Pyrenean endemic, found rather
locally from 1500m to 2450m according to Tolman, though I have only
seen it above 2000m. It is a butterfly of rough, grassy slopes and
screes, most often seen individually, even where common, rather than
gathering in groups as many Erebia do.
Males are very distinctive from above. The conspicuous, dark sex brand
and the red post-discal band reaching in towards the cell combine to
make an instantly recognisable pattern. There is a broad red band on
the hindwing too, and strong, white-pupilled eyespots within the band
on forewing and hindwing. The underside of the hindwing is dark with a
rough texture. The female is similar, but without the sex brand, so
looks much less special. Her underside, however, is distinctive, with
prominent white veins crossing the rough-textured, grey and brown
banding. On the wing, both sexes look similar to the Piedmont ringlet,
with which this species often flies.
The adults emerge in mid-July and fly into August. I have been at a
good site in early July and seen none. The caterpillars feed on various
grasses and it is this stage that hibernates. None of my books indicate
whether development takes one seasonal cycle or two.