This butterfly is remarkable for its
seasonal dimorphism. The spring (levana)
and summer (prorsa)
forms are so different in appearance they could easily be
taken for different species. I see the summer form much more
often because the map does not fly near me and I only see it when I
travel - which is mainly later in the season. In April 2014 I made a
special effort to go to the Jura and photograph the spring form.
Neither form truly resembles any other European species. Superficially, form prorsa
looks like a small white admiral but it really is much smaller and on
close inspection can be seen to have quite a different pattern of white
spots and bands. If the map-like underside is seen, there is no
possibility of confusion.
Maps are generally common in much of central and eastern
Europe, though local and rather patchily distributed in much of the
area I have coloured orange on the map. This is particularly true in
Finland, where I records outside the south are relatively few and far
apart. Although the foodplant is nettle, their preferred habitat is
woodland edges edges and clearings where nectar plants are abundant. I
have seen them all over France and in the Pyrenees, as well
as further East, in Hungary, and of course in Switzerland.
eggs are laid on in long strings, said to resemble the hanging
flowers of nettles. I have yet to find these - despite watching females
dithering around in nettle patches looking as if they were going to do
something. The first generation flies from April to June and the second
in July and August. Maps hibernate as pupae.