Male, Switzerland, June 2010
This beautiful skipper is common along hot, dusty tracks and
mountains of southern Europe. In Switzerland it flies in the Rhône
Valley and I see it sometimes in good numbers in the Pyrenees, flying up to at least 1600m and perhaps higher.
Although the genus Carcharodus
is regarded as difficult to identify, this species is very distinctive
and easily recognisable in flight. It is large and fast moving, the
pure white underside of the male in particular making it look very pale
and quite unlike anything else. The upperside is almost colourful, with
shades of brown, beige, white and reddish, and the marks on the
forewing are broad and hyaline. From the upperside alone, a dull, worn
individual could be confused with a tufted marbled skipper, but a
glimpse of the pale underside would dispel this impression.
The larvae feed on species of woundwort (Stachys),
hibernating in the third instar (in France - perhaps a different instar
elsewhere). Adults fly in a single, protracted generation from May to