Map

Araschnia levana


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Spring brood (form levana)

spring brood map

Switzerland, April 2014

spring brood map, Araschnia levana

Switzerland, April 2014

Spring brood map, Araschnia levana

Switzerland, April 2014

Spring brood map, Araschnia levana

Switzerland, April 2014

Summer brood (form prorsa)



Switzerland, August 2013

France, August 2008

France, August 2008

Val d'Aran, July 2005

Val d'Aran, July 2005

Val d'Aran, July 2005



Spring, nearly 30 years ago ...


Summer, over 30 years ago ...

Araschnia levana distribution

Distribution

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. The 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.