Male, Switzerland, August 2011, with Scotch argus behind
butterfly is widespread and sometimes very common in the mountains of
western Europe. I find it abundantly along flowery tracks in the Val
d'Aran, in the Spanish Pyrenees, though much less often in the Alps. It
obviously flies on my local mountains, as I have occasionally come
across an individual, but it is always an event to find one.
The Piedmont ringlet is very variable but certain features are constant
and it is usually easy to identify. It is a medium to large Erebia,
with upperside and underside different. The male underside is smooth
and dark, with the post-discal spots on the hindwing very narrowly (or
not at all) edged in red. There is often a whitish tide mark across the
middle of the hindwing. The female underside is similar, but paler. On
the upperside, there are conspiuous white-pupilled eyespots, usually
set in a broad, red band on forewing and hindwing, though some forms
have reduced markings on all wings. On the hindwing, the eyespots are
very obviously on the outer edge of the red band (or the outer part of
red spots) rather than central. This is constant and a useful feature
The flight period is said to be late May
to August, though I have never seen one before the end of June.
Although the species may be found above 2000m (I have seen it flying
with Gavarnie ringlets at 2100m in the Pyrenees) it is commonest
between about 900m and 1500m and flies as low as 600m. The larval
foodplants include common bent grass, wavy hair grass, mat grass and
sheep's fescue. The species hibernates as a caterpillar.