Great Banded Grayling

Brintesia circe


HOME
Brintesia circe

July 2017, Switzerland

Brintesia circe

Switzerland, August 2012

Brintesia circe

Switzerland, June 2014

Brintesia circe

Switzerland, July 2017

Brintesia circe

Switzerland, July 2016



Spain, July 2011



Nectaring, Switzerland, July 2011



Val d'Aran, July 2008



Switzerland, July 2008

Brintesia circe

Glimpse of upperside (great banded grayling on left, hermit on right), Switzerland, August 2013

My mother watches a great banded grayling fly around her feet. Switzerland 2003.

Brintesia circe larva

Final instar caterpillar, May 2018

Brintesia circe larva

Final instar caterpillar, May 2018

Brintesia circe distribution

Distribution

This huge grayling is common in much of Europe, favouring grassy places with plenty of bushes. It is particularly fond of settling on hot tarmac, where it rests, ever alert, ready to fly up as soon as it thinks you are about to take a photo. At other times it will zoom up with its characteristic strong, bouncy flight up into nearby trees, where it will stop and look down on you. The first adults appear in June and the species remains on the wing in a single brood until September.

The combination of great size and the white bands on the upperside make it unmistakable on the wing. A beginner might wonder if it is a poplar admiral - but that species has a quite different flight. Great banded graylings bounce energetically. Poplar admirals glide effortlessly between lazy flaps. At rest, only the underside is ever visible. In some ways it resembles other large graylings - like the woodland grayling - but the splashes of white in the basal half of the hindwing and forewing (in the cell of the forewing) are distinctive.

The foodplants include sheep's fescue and upright brome - but other grasses too. It hibernates as a caterpillar, completing its larval development by the end of May the following year. It is then that you might come across one wandering along a road or track between grassy areas, looking for a place to pupate.