Spanish/Pyrenees Brassy Ringlet

Erebia hispania/rondoui


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Val d'Aran, Pyrenees, July 2011



Val d'Aran, Pyrenees, July 2011



Mating pair, Val d'Aran, Pyrenees, July 2011



Val d'Aran, Pyrenees, July 2008

Long ago, in the Val d'Aran!

Erebia hispania/rondoui

Distribution

The Spanish and Pyrenees brassy ringlets are now regarded as distinct species, though older books treat them as subspecies. Their ranges are absolutely disjoint and there has been no genetic interchange for thousands of years, so it doesn't really matter either way - they are without a doubt valid taxa and whether they are species or subspecies is just a matter of where you choose to draw the line. The Spanish brassy ringlet, Erebia hispania, is restricted to the Sierra Nevada, while the Pyrenees brassy ringlet, as the name suggests, is a Pyrenean endemic.

No other brassy ringlets fly in the Sierra Nevada, so identification there is not a problem. In the Pyrenees, the common brassy ringlet flies. This is broadly similar to the Pyrenees brassy ringlet but the apical spots on the forewings, though usually touching, are not actually conflated into one, in the way they are in the Pyrenees brassy ringlet. The red on the forewing is also less extensive in common brassy ringlet, reaching less far towards the trailing edge, and the hindwing spots are less marked. In my experience, the underside hindwing of the Pyrenees brassy ringlet is less contrastingly marked, and slightly sandy in the female.

These two brassy ringlets both fly on grassy slopes, from 1650m to 2300m in the Pyrenees and above about 1800m in the Sierra Nevada. The caterpillars feed on various grasses including sheep's fescue and hibernate just once, the adults flying in a single generation from June to August, depending on latitude and altitude (earlier in the south and at lower altitudes within the same mountain range).